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Louise Farrow Barr
Books by Laura E. Richards.
" Mrs. Richards has made for herself a little niche apart in the liter-
ary world, from her delicate treatment of New England village Ufe." —
THE CAPTAIN JANUARY SERIES.
CAPTAIN JANUARY. i6mo, cloth, 50 cents.
A charming idyl of New England coast life, whose success has been
very remarkable. One reads it, is thoroughly charmed by it, tells
others, and so its fame has been heralded by its readers, until to-day
it is selling by the thousands, constantly enlarging the circle of its
SAME. Illustrated Holiday Edition. With thirty half-tone pictures
from drawings by Frank T. Merrill. 4to, cloth, I1.25.
ilBLODY. The Story of a Child. i6mo, 50 cents.
" Had there never been a ' Captain January,' * Melody ' would easily
take first place." — Boston Times.
SAilB. Illustrated Holiday Edition. With thirty half-tone pictures
from drawings by Frank T. Merrill. 4to, cloth, #1.25.
MARIE. i6mo, 50 cents.
" Seldom has Mrs. Richards drawn a more irresistible picture, or
framed one with more artistic literary adjustment.*' — Boston Herald.
" A perfect literary gem." — Boston Transcript.
NARclSSA, and a companion story, IN VcRONA. itmo, cloth,
** Each is a simple, touching, sweet little story of rustic New England
life, full of vivid pictures of interesting character, and refreshing for its
unaffected genuineness and human feeling." — Congregationalist.
JIM OP HbLLAS; or. IN DURANCE VILb, and a companion
story, BETH BSD A POOL. i6mo, 50 cents.
SOME SAY, and a companion story, NEIGHBOURS IN CYRUS.
i6mo, 50 cents.
ROSIN THE BEAU. i6mo, 50 cenU. A sequel to " Melody."
ISLA HERON. A charming prose idyl of quaint New England life.
Small quarto, cloth, 75 cents.
NAUTILUS. A very interesting story, with illustrations; uniquely
bound, small quarto, cloth, 75 cents.
FIVE MINUTE STORIES. A charming collection of short stories
and clever poems for children. Small quarto, cloth, $1.25.
THREE MAROARETS. One of the most clever stories for girls
that the author has written. i6mo, cloth, handsome cover design,
ilARQARET MONTFORT. The second volume in the series of
which " Three Margarets " was so successful as the initial volume.
i6mo, cloth, handsome cover design, $1.25.
PEQQY. The third volume in the series of which the preceding ones
have been so successful. i6mo, cloth, handsome cover design, $1.25.
LOVE AND ROCKS. A charming story of one of the pleasant
islands that dot the rugged Maine coast. With etching frontispiece
by Mercier. Tall i6mo, unique cover design on linen, gilt top, #1.00.
T^ana Estes 6r Company, Publishers, Boston.
LAURA E RICHARDS
ETHELDRED B. BARRY
DANA ESTES & COMPANY
By Dana Estes & Company
Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
Boston, Mass., U. S. A.
A New World ....
The Box from Fernley
In th|j "Gym." ....
Enter the Scapegoat .
To THE Rescue ....
The Owl's Nest ....
Wedding Bells ....
By Moonlight ....
Faculty Meeting and Bedlam .
Teacher and Pupil . .
Decoration — and Other Things
An Adventure ....
Peggy Victrix ....
On Spy Hill
What Was the Matter with Lobelia
The Terror by Night
The End and the Beginning
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
« < Peace be to thi8 dwelling ' " (p. 79) Frontispiece
«* Bertha, look at this, will you?'" . . 36
"Up THEY WENT, HAND OVER HAND." ... 69
The Grand Tell in the Owl's Nest . .120
« < Here I Take my hand and scramble out ' " 207
u With one of her sudden movements she had
THROWN OFF HER ASSAILANTS "... 237
« < Oh, Grace, she has fainted I ' " . . . 272
"*We four against THE WORLD T " . . . 308
A NEW WORLD.
" Miss Montfort ! " said the Principal.
Peggy looked about her.
" I wonder if it's another cousin ! " she
said to herself. " It can't be, or Margaret
would have known. Dear Margaret! now
if she were only here, she could answer, and
everybody would — "
" Miss Montfort ! " said the Principal again,
" Isn't that your name ? " whispered the girl
who sat beside Peggy. "You'll have to an-
swer, you know ! "
Peggy started violently, and, looking up,
met the Principal's eyes bent upon her. She
struggled to her feet, feeling herself one
blush from head to foot.
^^I — I beg your pardon!" she faltered.
" I didn't suppose — did you mean me ? "
" You are Miss Montfort, are you not ? "
" Oh, no ! my cousins are both — that is, —
I am just Peggy ! "
There was a general titter, which the Prin-
cipal checked with her pencil. "Young la-
dies ! " she said in a warning tone. " Miss
Montfort, you will have room No. 18, in the
second corridor. You will be alone for the
" Oh, goody ! " cried Peggy. " I mean —
I'm ever so much obliged, thank you ! Can
I go now ? "
" You may go now ! " said the Principal,
with a slight emphasis on the auxiliary.
Peggy stumbled over the foot of the girl
next her, stepped on her own dress, tripped
and came to her knees ; picked herself up,
with a sound of rending cloth, and finally
got out of the room. This time the titter
was not so easily checked. Peggy heard it
rippling behind her as she fled. Even Miss
A NEW WORLD. 13
Russell smiled as she rapped on the desk, and
said one word to herself : " Untrained ! "
But the girl who had sat beside Peggy-
rubbed her foot, which hurt a good deal, and
said three words : " Poor little thing ! "
No. 18 in the second corridor was a good-
sized room, with two windows, one of them
crossed on the outside by a fire-escape. Its
present aspect was bare and unhomelike.
The furniture consisted of an iron bedstead,
a bureau and wash-stand, two chairs and a
small table, all neat, but severely plain. The
small square of carpet on the floor was a
cold gray mixture with brown flowers on it.
As Peggy Montfort looked about her, her
heart sank. Was she to live here, to spend
her days and nights here, for a whole endless
year? She thought of her room at home,
the great sunny room that she shared with
her sister Jean. That had four windows,
which were generally flung wide open; it
was bare, because she and Jean liked to
have plenty of space for gymnastics and
wrestling; but that was a homelike, accus-
tomed bareness, and they loved it. The
great old four-post bed, with the round balls
on which they loved to stand and perform
circus tricks ; the hammock slung across one
end ; the birds' nests and hawks' wings that
adorned the walls in lieu of pictures ; the
antlers on which they hung their hats, — all
these, or the thought of them, smote Peggy's
stout heart, and sent it lower and lower down.
A maid knocked at the door: here was
Miss Montfort's trunk, and would she unpack
it, please, as the man would be coming again
to take the empty trunks to the attic.
Peggy fell to work with ardour; here, at
least, was something to do, in this strange,
lonesome place. Arriving in the afternoon, a
day or two after the beginning of school, her
lessons were not to begin till the next morning.
Every dress, as she lifted it out, seemed a
bit of home. Here was the triangular tear
in her blue gingham, that Jean mended for
her. One could hardly see it now ! Dear
Jean ! she was neat-handed, and she had a
little look of Margaret, the same soft hair
and clear, quiet eyes. Here was her beloved
bicycle skirt ! Ah, there was something
A NEW WORLD. 15
heavy in the pocket. Peggy explored, and
drew forth an apple ; that brought the tears,
which were not very far off in the first place,
and there was a good deal of salt in the
apple as she ate it. She was so determined
to make the best of everything, however,
that she fought back the homesickness that
was rising like a flood within her, and even
managed to whistle a tune as she hung up
her dresses and laid her stockings and hand^
kerchiefs in the drawers. Then the shoe-bag
must be hung against the closet door, the bag
that Margaret had made and worked with
her initials. Dearest Margaret! and here
was the pincushion that Flora gave her, and
the writing-case from Brother Hugh — Oh !
she would write to him every week of her
life, indeed she would ! and so on and so on.
When the trunk was empty, the room
looked less forlorn, though still pretty bare,
for in Peggy's home little thought was given
to anything not of practical use. The door
was open, and happening to look up she
caught a glimpse of the opposite room, on
the other side of the narrow corridor. Here,
too, the door stood open, and Peggy gazed open-
eyed. A greater contrast could hardly be
imagined. Here every available inch of wall-
space was covered, with jAiotographs, with
Japanese fans and umbrellas, with posters
and ribbons and flags. The room itself was
choked, it seemed to Peggy, with chairs and
tables, low tables covered with books, with
cups and saucers, with knickknacks of every
possible description. The whole effect was
bewildering, but so gay and cheerful that
Peggy sighed as she glanced back at her own
bare white walls, at the bureau with its sober
brush and comb, and the polished table where
the writing-case lay in solitary state. She
could not imagine living in a room like that
other: she should stifle, and throw half the
things out of the window; but it would be
nice to have just a few more things ! If she
had only thought! Jean would have been
glad to share the nests with her, and she
could have had the rattlesnake skin, for had
she not killed him herself? and then there
were the fossils !
As Peggy meditated, steps came along the
A NEW WORLD. 17
corridor, and halted at her door. A face
peeped in. "May I come in?" asked the
girl who had sat beside her in the class-room.
" Oh, do ! I wi^ you would ! " cried Peggy,
eagerly. " I am so glad to see you ! Sit
down ! I wanted to tell you — you were aw-
fully kind to let me know she meant me.
You see, I never was called Miss Montfort
in my life before."
The girl sat down, and looked kindly at
Peggy. She was a singular-looking girl,
short and dark, with a curious effect of
squareness in her thickset figure. Her face
was plain, but one forgot that when one met
the bright, intelligent gaze of her dark eyes.
" I ought to introduce myself ! " she said.
"My name is Bertha Haughton. I'm a
neighbour of yours. No ! " she added, laugh-
ing, as Peggy glanced involuntarily across the
way. " That is Vanity Fair. I don't live
there ; I live in the Owls' Nest, some way
down the corridor."
" Are all the rooms named ? " asked Peggy,
" Most of them, on this corridor, at least.
There's Vanity Fair and Rag Fair and the
Smithsonian Institute on the other side — oh !
and the China Shop and the Corner Grocery,
too. And on this side is ours, the Owls'
Nest, and Bedlam, and the Soap Factory, and
the Nursery, and this room of yours."
" Oh, how interesting ! " cried Peggy. " Do
tell me what the names mean ! Why Owls'
Nest ? "
"Oh, well, we got the name of studying
hard, that's all. We don't study harder than
ever so many others, but in our freshman
year we — my chum and I — passed an ex-
amination that a good many failed in, and so
we got the name of owls. That's really all !
And the China Shop — well ! Ada Bull had
it last year, and she had a mania for china-
painting ; and that with the name, together,
you see ! Then there is the Soap Factory, —
that is quite a story ! you really want to hear
it ? well !
"You know we are not allowed to buy
candy, or to have it sent to us. This girl's
mother — I won't tell her name, she's in
college now — was a very silly person, and
A NEW WORLD. 19
she sent her a great box of chocolate, five or
six pounds (though she knew the rules, mind
you !), all done up like soap/'
'' Like soap ! " repeated Peggy.
" Yes ! the box was marked soap, and the
chocolate was in little cakes, just like the little
sample cakes of soap they send round, don't
you know? and each cake wrapped up in
paper, with ' Savon de Chocolat ' stamped on
it. It came from Paris, I believe.
^^Well, of course the girl ought to have
told Miss Russell at once, but she didn't.
She kept the box under her bed, and told all
the girls she knew ; and of course they kept
coming into her room all day long, and her
pocket was always full, and, however it hap-
pened, at last Miss Russell suspected some-
thing. One day she came suddenly upon
Margie in the hall, and saw that she was
eating something, and asked her what it was.
We're not allowed to eat going about the
house, of course. Margie had just bitten off
half a cake, apd she had the other half in
her hand, with the printed side up, ^ Savon
de Chocolat ! ' and she said ' Soap ! '
" ' Soap ! ' said Miss Russell.
" ' Yes ! ' said Margie. ' Soap, Miss Rus-
" The Principal looked at her a minute, and
then I suppose she smelt the chocolate. She
told her to wait, and then she went into her
own room and came out with a little cake of
tar soap — sample cake — that looked for all
the world like chocolate soap.
" ' Pray try this ! ' she said, as grave as a
.judge. ' I am sure you will find it excellent.
I must insist upon your trying it, since you
have a taste for soap.'
" Poor Margie ! she had a good deal of
pluck, and when she saw there was no help
for it, she took a bite of the soap. But
it was too horrid; she couldn't swallow it.
She choked, and ran to her own room ; the
Principal followed her, and then the whole
story came out. Margie never told us just
what Miss Russell said. The chocolate was
sent to the Orphans' Home next day, and she
was a pretty serious girl for some time after.
So now you know why that room is called the
A NEW WORLD. 21
" That's a splendid story ! " cried Peggy.
Why, I think this is great. Did this room
have a name, too ? I'm sure it must have !
Do tell me what it is ! "
A queer look crossed the dark girl's face.
" It has been called Broadway ! " she said.
" I hope it may be changed now." She hesi-
tated, and was about to speak again, when
two girls came along arm in arm.
" Look ! " said Bertha Haughton. " There
are your opposite neighbours. Vanity and Vex-
ation of Spirit. I'll call them over and
" Oh, please don't ! " cried Peggy, under
her breath, catching her companion's arm.
But it was too late.
" V. v.," called Bertha, in her clear, hearty
voice, "come and be introduced to Miss
The girls turned and came forward, one
eagerly, the other rather unwillingly.
"Miss Viola Vincent, Miss Vivia Vam-
ham," said Bertha Haughton, " this is Miss
— Peggy, did you say ? — Miss Peggy Mont-
Miss Vamham simply bowed, but Viola
Vincent advanced with outstretched hand.
"How do you do?^^ she cried; and she
lifted Peggy's hand to the level of her chin,
and shook it gently from side to side. " Aw-
fully glad to see you ! It's been too perfectly
horrid to have this room empty; hasn't it,
" A great bore ! " assented Miss Varnham,
who looked thoroughly bored herself.
Both girls had entered the room, and were
standing, looking about them. Peggy stood,
too, feeling unspeakably shy and awkward,
and not • knowing what to say. Bertha
Haughton gave her a quick, friendly glance,
and made a slight motion with her head
toward a chair. Peggy started, and coloured
" I beg your pardon ! " she stammered.
" Won't you sit down ? here are two chairs ;
and you and I can sit on the bed ! " she
turned to Miss Haughton with an air of
relief ; she seemed already an old friend.
Peggy's timid glances at the newcomers
showed her that they belonged to a species
A NEW WORLD. 23
unknown to her. Living on a great prairie
farm, she had known no girls save her sisters
and the two cousins with whom she had spent
a happy summer at Fernley House, the home
of her uncle, Mr. John Montfort, a year before.
But neither sisters nor cousins, nor Bertha
Haughton herself, bore any resemblance to the
two young women who now seated themselves
on her two straight-backed chairs. Both were
dressed in the extreme of the fashion, which
was not a specially graceful one. Both
wore their hair elaborately dressed, with a
profusion of gold and silver pins, a passing
fancy easily carried to extravagance. Both
were pretty, and there was even a „fci^d of
likeness between them, though it vanished
when one looked closely. Viola Vincent had
limpid blue eyes, and long lashes which she
had a way of dropping, as she had been told
that they looked well on her cheek, which was
clear and delicately tinted. She smiled a good
deal, and in doing so showed a pretty dimple
in one cheek. Ill spite of a certain affecta-
tion, Peggy thought her charming.
Vivia Varnham was less attractive, in spite
of her bright hazel eyes and pretty fluffy
hair ; there was a supercilious lift to her eye-
brows, an unamiable droop to the corners of
her mouth. Peggy did not make this analy-
sis ; she only thought, " I shall not like her,
I know I sha'n't ! "
The girls chattered away without much
regard to her, and she only half understood
" My dear ! Have you heard ? " This was
from Viola to Bertha Haughton. She patted
herself all over while she talked, now her
hair, now her collar, now her blouse, little
" You never hear anything, you owls !
When is the Snowy coming back ? She has
been away forty years ! I simply can't exist
without her. Why, my dear, we are to have
the straw-ride after all. Miss Russell says we
may. Isn't it perf 'ly fine ? "
"Are you sure?" said Bertha Haughton,
doubtfully. " You know last time she said
we couldn't go again, because Grace acted so,
pulling out the linch-pin and dropping us all
into the road."
A NEW WORLD. 25
"My dear, I know! that's just it! The
Goat went to her this morning and said she
would stay at home and do double lessons if
the rest of us could only go. Noble of the
Goat, I call it ; only it won't be half so much
fun without her, and Billy gone, too. Oh,
you can't possibly imagine how we miss Billy.
How forlorn this room looks without all her
pretty things ! " She glanced about the room.
" Perf'ly awful, isn't it ? " she said.
Poor Peggy flushed scarlet. Bertha Haugh-
ton flashed her a glance of indignant sym-
" Billy had the room simply ridiculous ! "
she said, hastily. "Almost as bad as your
toyshop, Vanity. I can't abide a frippy
room ! "
Viola Vincent opened her blue eyes wide.
"What ruffled you up. Fluffy?" she said.
"I didn't* say anything about the Nest."
Then, happening to glance at Peggy, she
realised what she had said, and blushed a
" I'm sure I didn't mean anything ! " she
cried, with a little giggle. " Of course when
Miss Montfort gets all her things out and
arranged, it will be quite charming, I'm sure
" I haven't any more things ! " said honest
Peggy. She managed to keep her voice
steady, but the tears would come into her
eyes, and she raged at herself.
" Oh, you'll accumulate them ! " said good-
natured Viola, who liked to have people com-
fortable, if it did not take too much trouble.
" Won't she, V. ? We had hardly anything
when we came, had we, V. ? Barns, my dear,
were nothing to us, were they, V. ? "
" Oh, of course not ! " assented Miss Varn-
ham ; but her smile was so like a sneer, and
her glance about the room so cold and con-
temptuous, that Peggy felt dislike hardening
at her heart.
^^What is all that noise in the entry?"
exclaimed Bertha Haughton, anxious to
change the conversation. "It sounds as if
an elephant were coming to call."
Viola Vincent fluttered to the door, patting
her waist affectionately as she went.
"My dear!'' she cried, in high-pitched
A NEW WORLD. 27
staccato tones. " It's a box, an express box.
Oh, it's a perfect monster, a mammoth ! Vi,
this must be your dresses. Hurrah ! we'll
havei a grand trying on."
Vivia Varnham looked out. A burly ex-
pressman was staggering forward with an
enormous box, almost as big as a packing-
" Take it in there ! " she said, imperiously,
motioning across the corridor. " Put it down
carefully, mind ! Miss Varnham, is it ? "
"No, miss," said the man, respectfully.
" Me ! " cried Peggy, starting to her feet.
" Oh, there must be some mistake. I wasn't
— there's nothing coming for me."
" It must be for you ! " said Bertha Haugh-
ton. " There is no other Miss Montfort in the
school. Look at the address, and you may
know the handwriting ! "
Peggy looked. In a clear, bold hand was
Miss Peggy Montfort,
At Miss Russell's School,
Glass, with care. All charges paid.
" Oh ! " she cried, clasping her hands. " It
is for me ! It's from Uncle John ! Oh, what
do you suppose — what can it be ? "
^^ Bring it in here, please," said Bertha
Haughton, quietly, to the man, who still
stood balancing the box. '^ There ! set it
against the wall ; thank you ! Now," as the
man departed, " we need a screw-driver. Have
you one, Viola ? "
" My dear ! I had one, but the Goat broke
it, using it for a step, you know, to get up to
the next story. I use a can-opener now, but
that will only do for small boxes. I don't
have — well. State Houses, coming every
day," she added, with a good-natured laugh,
glancing at the great box.
Bertha Haughton ran to fetch a screw-
driver from her room, and the other two
girls moved toward the door. Vivia Varn-
ham looked black. She had made sure the
box was for her, and felt aggrieved at the
stupid freshman who appropriated it. Viola
Vincent, on the other hand, was delighted.
"I'm awfully glad!" she said. "It's simply
dandy, having a box come. Ta, ta ! I hope
A NEW WORLD. 29
it will be something perf'ly splendid, dresses
and hats and all kinds of giddiness. I love
giddiness ! When you want to be giddy, you
must come to us; the Owls are too worthy.
There's Fluffy back again with the screw-
driver. Ta again ! Awfully glad ! "
Peggy was half inclined to ask Viola to
stay, but still it was rather a relief when the
opposite door closed. Whatever the box con-
tained, she could not have enjoyed it with
those sharp, cold eyes of Viola Varnham
" Here is the screw-driver ! " cried Bertha,
out of breath with her flight along the cor-
ridor. "It's very strong, you need not be
afraid of pressing on it. Can I do anything
more to help you ? If not, I must go. I hope
it is something very nice indeed ! "
" Go ! you ! " cried Peggy. " Oh, must
you ? Can't you stay and help me see what
it is ? It isn't any fun opening boxes alone,"
she added, piteously.
The girl does not live who would not rather
unpack a box than eat her dinner. " If you
are sure you want me," said Bertha. "I
didn't want to be in the way, that was
" In the way ! Oh, Miss Haughton ! Why,
you are the only friend I have here in this
" If I am going to be your friend, I am not
going to be Miss Haughton another minute.
Do you really want me to stay, Peggy ? "
" I do. Bertha, indeed I do."
" Honour bright ? "
" Honour brightest ! "
" Hurrah, then ! And now for the box ! "
THE BOX FROM FEENLET.
The box was no ordinary rough affair,
knocked together for simple purposes of trans-
portation. It was neatly and carefully made,
the edges fitting closely together, the lid
furnished with hinges.
" We must take care how we open this ! "
said Bertha. " It would be a shame to spoil
such a fine box."
Peggy was used to tools of every descrip-
tion, and she drew out the screws deftly, then
lifted the lid. Both girls bent eagerly for-
ward. Nothing was visible but white paper,
neatly fitted to the top of the box. Yes ! on
the paper lay a card, on which was written,
" For Peggy's housekeeping. From Uncle
John and Margaret, with best love."
The handwriting was Margaret's, and Peggy
seized and*kissed it before going further. ^^It
is Margaret ! " she said. " Dear, darling
Margaret, the best friend I have in the world.
Oh, how dear and kind and lovely of them
both ! What do you suppose they have sent
" Suppose we see ! " said Bertha Haughton.
Yet both girls lingered a moment, tasting the
joy of suspense.
It was not a joy to be long indulged, how-
ever. Together they lifted the paper, and
lo ! more paper, but this time enveloping vari-
ous mysterious packages neatly tied with pink
" Margaret's tape ! " cried Peggy. " Uncle
John gave her a great big spool of it, because
she said she had never seen enough in her
life. Oh, what a fat bundle ! You shall
open it, Bertha, because you have been so
good to me."
" Open your bundle ! " cried Bertha. " In-
deed I will not ! I never heard of such a
thing. Be quick, though, for I do want to
The big square parcel revealed an afghan.
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 33
knitted in long stripes of red and blue, the
colours rich and warm, and harmonising
" Oh, what a beauty ! " cried Bertha, while
Peggy gazed in silent delight. " My dear, it
warms the whole room ! and the length of it,
and the breadth ! why, it will go on double.
I never saw such a splendid one."
Indeed, the great afghan had been Mar-
garet's "pick-up work" ever since she first
heard that Peggy was going to school, and
loving thoughts were knitted into every stripe.
"What next?" said Bertha- "My dear,
So they were, four of them, each prettier
than the other.
"But what shall I do with them?" said
Peggy, with a comical glance around the room.
" There's no sign of a sofa. Never mind !
they are perfect beauties. Oh, and what can
this be ? Oh, Bertha, see, it is a bookcase ! "
The six pieces of polished wood were quickly
fitted together, and there was indeed a book-
case, not very large, but still ample to contain
all the books Peggy would be likely to need.
" Where are your books ? " asked Bertha,
innocently ; and Peggy hung her head.
"My Bible is in my drawer/' she said.
"I — I didn't bring any other books. I'm
a dreadful dunce/' she added, timidly. " I
might as well tell you now, for you'd find it
out anyhow, the very first time you talked
about books. I don't — care — about them,
" Oh ! '* and Bertha looked a little blank,
being a bookworm herself. " But there must
be some books you are fond of, Peggy ? "
Peggy shook her head despondently. " I
don't beUeve there are," she said. " Oh, of
course I like ' Treasure Island,' and ' Robin
Hood,' and that kind of thing. But history,
and the Waverley Novels — why, Margaret
would like to read the Waverley Novels all
day; and they put me to sleep in five
She looked anxiously at her new friend, to
see the effect of this dreadful confession ; but
Bertha only laughed. " Well, I love the
Waverleys very much myself," she said ;
" but I know everybody doesn't care for
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 35
them. But when you want to read, Peggy,
what do you do ? "
" But I don't want to read/' said Peggy,
humbly. "It — it seems such a waste of
time ; except Coues, of course, and he wouldn't
go in my trunk, and Pa is going to send him
" What do you mean ? " asked Bertha, puz-
zled in her turn. " Cows ! "
" Yes, the book, you know ! Oh, I couldn't
live without that."
" Do you mean a herd-book ? Of course,
you said you lived on a farm. You mean that
you study pedigrees and that kind of thing ? "
Now it was Peggy's turn to laugh, as she
explained that she meant Prof. J. Elliott
Coues' s admirable book on birds.
"Pa has Samuels," she added, "but I
couldn't bring that, because it is out of print,
and too valuable. Besides, he isn't so thorough
as Coues, don't you know, especially in anat-
omy and that part. Is there a good class in
anatomy here? Of course I shall want to
" Oh, dear ! " cried Bertha, in comical dis-
may, " I don't know ! Peggy Montfort, you
are not a dunce at all; you are just sham-
ming. The idea of any one wanting to study
anatomy ! "
"The idea of wanting to study anything
else/' cried Peggy, " except physics and
geometry. It's this horrible literature and
stuff that I cannot bear. But we can't stop
and talk, with the box only half unpacked.
Oh, pictures ! Now I do like pictures, when
they are the right kind. Bertha, look at this,
will you ? "
With difficulty she lifted out a large pic-
ture which filled the box from end to end.
Both girls uttered a cry of delight. It was
the "Automedon" of Henri Regnault. The
great horses rearing and plunging, the heroic
figure of the charioteer, seemed to take Peggy's
breath. "It — it's the kind of thing you
dream about, isn't it?" she said. "They are
alive; I believe they'll break through the
glass in another minute. Oh, there can't be
anything else as splendid as this ! "
But when she drew out next a fine photo-
graph of " The Night Watch," she hardly
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 37
knew what to say. The gleaming eyes of the
lions, prowling among 'the ruined colinnns,
fascinated her almost as much as the wild
horses had done. She had less to say to the
beautiful photograph of the Sistine Madonna,
which came next; yet she looked at it with
eyes of wistful affection. It was Margaret's
favourite picture, and she loved it on that ac-
count as well as its own. Yet her taste was
for "critters," as she freely acknowledged;
and she glowed again as Bertha held up an
engraving of " Sheridan's Ride," with the
great captain riding straight out of the pic-
ture at her.
" That's the kind of thing she wants ! "
Mr. Montfort had said, when he and his niece
Margaret were having their delightful " Peggy-
lark," as he called it. "The Sistine by all
means, Meg ; but no more old masters for our
Peggy. She won't understand them, and she
won't like them. What was it she said about
your pet St. Anthony ? "
" She said he looked as if he had gone out
for clams and fallen into the mud ! " said Mar-
garet, rather ruefully. "I suppose you are
right, Uncle John; but, oh, do look at this
lovely Murillo angel! How could she help
"The anatomy of it would distress her,"
said Mr. Montfort, dryly. " You know Peggy
is strong on anatomy. Better take the ' Auto-
" Which you said was out of drawing ! "
cried Margaret, with a flash of mischief. " Oh,
if you are going to put false ideas into her
head, Uncle John — " on which she was very
properly told to choose her pictures, and not
The last picture in the box had not been
chosen in any picture-shop ; and at sight of it
Peggy sat down on the bed and began to cry.
" Oh, dear ! " she said. " What shall I do ?
Oh, Margaret, Margaret, what shall I do ? "
Kind-hearted Bertha was distressed. " Don't
cry, dear ! " she said. " I know ! I know
just how it feels. Is it your father and
sister ? "
" No ! oh, no ! " said Peggy, wiping her
eyes. " Of course it's different with Pa and
the girls, because I shall be going home every
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 39
vacation, you know. But I never was so
happy in all my life as I was there ; and
seeing it — it is Fernley, and Uncle John
The large photograph showed a stately
house shadowed by lofty trees. Standing on
the stone verandah were two figures, one, that
of a tall man in a black velvet coat, with
bright dark eyes; the other a slender girl
with a sweet, thoughtful face. Both seemed
to be looking straight at Peggy, and she felt
Uncle John's kind look and Margaret's tender
smile like warmth at her heart.
"I — Fm only crying because — I'm —
glad ! " she said. And Bertha seemed to
understand that, too.
But the wonderful box was not yet empty ;
it really seemed like the famous bag of the
Fairy Blackstick. Out came a gay Oriental
cloth, which made another thing of the chilly
little polished table ; item, a bureau-cover
embroidered with gold-coloured chrysanthe-
mums ; item, a wonderful work-basket, fitted
with everything that a needlewoman's heart
could desire; item, a spirit-lamp and a hot-
water bottle, and a neat little tool-chest.
Peggy sighed over the work-basket, and re-
solved to do her very best, but at sight of the
tool-chest her eyes sparkled, and she seized
upon it with delight, and caressed each shining
implement as if it were a living and beloved
" Did you ever see such a little duck of a
saw ? " she cried. "Oh, I must go to work
and make something this very day. Only,
these two dears have sent me everything that
I could ever possibly need. What is that.
Bertha ? There can't be anything more ! "
There could, though, and was. The bottom
of the box was fitted with a cushion or mat-
tress of chintz, chrysanthemums again, on a
pale green ground ; and the last parcel of
all contained several yards of the same ma-
" What do you suppose — Oh, I see ! "
cried Peggy. '" The box, — we wondered why
it was such a good box, don't you know ? It
is to be a kind of sofa, or window-seat, or
something ; and this is the cushion, and the
rest is for a flounce and curtains. Oh, dear.
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 41
did you ever hear of anything so perfectly
lovely ? Dear Uncle John, dear Margaret ! "
and she wept again, and, in default of Mar-
garet, hugged the biggest sofa-pillow, a won-
derful affair of soft yellow silk, with ruffles
'' Come," said Bertha, " this will never do,
Peggy ! We must get these all arranged
before tea, mustn't we ? The gong will sound
in a few minutes."
Peggy dried* her tears, and the two girls
went to work with right good will. In ten
minutes the dreary room was as cheerful and
homelike a place as heart could desire. The
pictures were hung (I forgot to mention that
the fairy box contained picture-hooks and
wire, hidden away in a corner), the cushions
fitted, the chintz tacked in a neat flounce
around the box, which straightway became a
divan, and looked positively Oriental with the
pillows heaped with careful carelessness on it.
Peggy stood and surveyed the whole effect
with shining eyes. " When the curtains are
up — " she said, and looked inquiringly at
" When the curtains are up/' said Bertha,
"it will be one of the pleasantest rooms in
the whole school/'
And then the gong sounded, and they went
down to tea.
A throng of girls was pouring into the
great dining-room. Few of them noticed the
newcomer, being taken up with their own
concerns, laughing and chatting, hurrying to
their places ; yet Peggy felt as if all eyes
were upon her. She clung t;lose to Bertha
Haughton's arm ; but now that friendly arm
was drawn away.
"I must leave you here, Peggy," said
" Oh, don't leave me ! Oh, can't I sit by
you?" asked poor Peggy, in an agonised
" No, dear, I have to go over there, quite
to the other side of the room. See, Miss
Russell is beckoning to you. You are to sit
at her table, with the other freshmen. Cheer
up, Peggy, it'll be all right after the first
Bertha nodded kindly, and took her way
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 43
across the hall, while Peggy stumbled along,
tripping over several dresses (she always
stumbled when she was embarrassed), to the
table where the Principal sat. There were
six tables, twelve girls to each table, with a
teacher at the head. Miss Russell greeted
Peggy pleasantly, and it occurred to our
friend for the first time that the Principal
was not a Gorgon, but a human being, with
a grave face, it is true, but with kind and
" I trust you have been resting after your
journey. Miss Montf ort ! Yes ? That is
good. Coming so late yesterday you did not
meet your classmates, who had already gone
to their rooms. Miss Parkins, Miss Barclay,
Miss Manton, — this is Miss Peggy Montfort.
I hope you will introduce her to the other
young ladies after tea."
The three girls nearest Peggy bowed, all
more or less shyly ; it was comforting to feel
that there were others who felt as strange as
she did. In fact, Miss Parkins, who sat on
her left, was so manifestly and miserably
frightened that Peggy felt herself a lion by
comparison, and, by way of improving ac-
quaintance, asked her boldly for the salt.
Miss Parkins gasped, shivered, clutched
the pepper-pot, and dropped it into her own
plate. The other freshmen giggled nerv-
ously, but Peggy glowed with compassion and
" Never mind ! " she whispered. " That's
just the kind of thing I am doing all the
time. There is the salt; why, I can reach
it myself, and nobody ever wants pepper,
anyhow. There, that's all right ! "
The girl lifted a pair of eyes so red with
crying, so humble and grateful and altogether
piteous, that Peggy's own eyes almost over-
flowed. She put her hand under the table,
found a little limp, cold paw, and gave it
a hearty squeeze. " Cheer up ! " she said.
"It'll be better pretty soon, I — I guess.
I am — homesick — too ! "
Then, finding a sob rising in her throat, she
hastily filled her mouth with buttered toast,
choked, and caught herself with a wild sound,
half cough, half snort, that brought the eyes
of the whole table upon her. The strange
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 45
thing was, Peggy did not seem to care this
time. They were only freshmen like herself.
Any one of them might have choked just as
well as she, and she was bigger than any of
them. If those other girls had seen, now !
not Bertha, but the other two ! She glanced
over to the opposite table, where the two V's
sat facing her; but they were chattering
away, with no thought of freshmen or their
doings. Viola Vincent looked very pretty in
a pale blue blouse and white piqu6 skirt ; she
was evidently in high spirits, and was patting
her hair and her waist with perfect satisfaction.
" Perf 'ly fine ! " came to Peggy's ears, in
her clear piping voice. " My dear^ it will be
simply dandy ! "
Peggy glanced at the Principal, she hardly
knew why, except that Margaret disliked
slang ; and she saw her brows contract with a
momentary look of vexation. " It does sound
rather horrid ! " she thought. " I wonder if I
shall have to give up saying ' awfully ! ' That
would be perfectly awful. Besides, it sounds
awfully affected to talk like a book all the
Thus meditating, Peggy let her napkin slip
down to the floor. Her neighbour saw it, and
both stooped at the same time to pick it up.
Their heads came together with a violent
crack. " Ow ! " cried Peggy, and rubbed her
flaxen poll vigorously. Miss Parkins was too
frightened to know whether she was- hurt or
not. " Never mind ! " said Peggy. " It was
my fault just as much as yours. Did you get
an awful crack ? Oh ! I mean, did you hurt
yourself ? "
The poor girl murmured something, but it
was more like a sob than a speech; and
Peggy could only press the limp hand again,
and resolve that when she knew the girl a
little better she would try to put some spirit
into her. Her own spirit was rising. She
felt that ten pairs of eyes were watching her
furtively ; that her companions were taking
notes, and that every spoonful she ate was
counted and criticised; but still her courage
was good, and she was even able to notice
that the biscuits were light and the peach
I said ten pairs of eyes, for the eleventh
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 47
had never been lifted above the level of the
table-cloth, save for that one grateful glance
over the spilt pepper. Certainly Miss Par-
kins was a queer-looking little person. Very
small and slight, with a certain wizened look
that did not belong to so young a face ; a long,
thin nose, and two small reddish-brown eyes
that looked as if they had always been given
to crying. The child — she did not look more
than a child — had no beauty of any kind;
yet a certain gentleness of look redeemed the
poor little face from absolute ugliness. She
was queerly dressed, too. Her gown was of
good, even rich material, but in questionable
taste, and cut in a fashion that might have
suited her grandmother. Peggy's own ideas
of dress were primitive, and she was not very
observant, but she did feel that blue poplin
stamped with large red roses was not a suit-
able dress for a schoolgirl, even if she were
not small and plain and wizened, and even if
it were not cut in a bygone fashion.
Peggy saw, or fancied she saw, glances of
amused contempt thrown at her poor little
" All the more reason/' she thought, "why
I should make friends with her."
" Do you — did you come yesterday, or the
day before ? " she asked, as cheerfully as she
" Oh ! yes, I think so ! " was the reply, in a
gasping whisper. This was not very encour-
aging, but Peggy proceeded.
" Did you have far to come ? I came all the
way from Ohio."
" Oh ! no, I don't think so ! "
"It took me all day to get here. It's
horrid travelling alone, don't you think so ? "
" Oh ! I — don't know ! I never travelled."
On the whole, the girl seemed so distressed
that Peggy felt it would be a cruel kindness
to pursue the conversation. " I needn't talk
to the others," she said to herself. " They
came before I did; they can talk to me if
they want to."
But now supper was over, and the girls
rose with a whirr, like a flock of pigeons, and
fluttered out of the dining-room. Peggy
looked longingly after Bertha Haughton ;
indeed, Bertha seemed to be lingering, look-
THE BOX FROM FERNLEY. 49
ing for her ; but at that moment two or three
girls swooped down upon the junior, and
began a hubbub of questions. Peggy felt all
her shyness rushing back in a flood. Turning
to flee, she almost fell over little Miss Parkins,
who was hastening on her way, too. " Come ! ''
said Peggy. "We are both strange cats;
suppose we stay together! What happens
now, do you know ? This is my first evening
here. It's awfully queer, isn't it?"
"Oh!" gasped Miss Parkins. "They —
she — read something last night. Don't you
think I might go to my room ? I want to go
to my room ! Don't you think I might ? "
" Of course you may ! " said Peggy, on fire
with sympathy. "It's a pity if you've got
to hear reading when you don't want to.
Cut along, young 'un ! "
Her brother's familiar phrase rose natu-
rally to her lips ; it was unfortunate that at
that moment 6ne of the teachers happened
to pass by. She was «a long, sallow woman,
with greenish eyes set too near together, and
the gaze she fixed upon Peggy was appalling
in its severity.
"Young ladies are required to attend the
reading ! " she said. " Your expression is an
improper one, Miss Montfort ! " and pinching
her lips together she passed on.
" My goodness gracious me ! " whispered
Peggy. " Who is that ? "
" Oh ! hush ! oh, don't ! " whispered Lobelia
Parkins, miserably. " She's going to read
to-night, because the Principal has a cold ;
I heard them saying so. That is Miss
Pugsley ! "
IN THE "gym."
Peggy's pillow was quite damp when she
went to sleep that night. To be sure she had
been cheered by a friendly call from Bertha
Haughton, but even that could not keep the
homesickness from triumphing, when she was
left alone, and the sounds in the corridor died
away, and the hght was out. Home seemed
so far, so endlessly far away ; she felt so
utterly alone in the world ! Education seemed
a foolish and meaningless thing beside the
love and comfort of home. What would she
not give to be able to put out her hand and
feel her sister Jean beside her, warm and lov-
ing, her own flesh and blood !
So the pillow was damp, as I have said ;
but Peggy was young and healthy, and she
fell asleep after awhile, and when she woke
again the sun was up and the pillow was
dry. Now she did put out her hand for Jean,
forgetting where she was ; and finding noth-
ing but a cold wall, lay looking around her,
coming back to the present. The room
looked very strange at first. "Maybe I'm
not awake ! " said Peggy, wisely ; then she
pinched herself, and with the pinch the whole
thing came back.
" Why, of course ! " she said. " Oh, dear !
well, here I am ; and I wanted to come, and
I've been thinking about it for months, and
then it goes and is like this ! " She sighed, and
wondered what they were doing at home, and
at Fernley ; then she became interested in her
pretty room, and her heart overflowed once
more with love to her dear ones at Fernley,
who had made it so bright and charming for
her. " I know what Margaret would say ! "
exclaimed Peggy, raising her head from the
pillow. " She would say, ' Now you are there,
my dear, try to make the best of it ; ' and so
I will ! You hear me ! " These last words
were spoken aloud with some severity, and
appeared to be addressed to the brush and
IN THE "gym." 53
comb, which took no notice whatever. And
then Peggy made the best of that moment,
and got up.
Breakfast was another ordeal, but not so
bad as the tea of the night before; after
breakfast came prayers, and then the class-
room. Peggy found herself seated at a desk,
beside one of her classmates. Rose Barclay,
a pretty brunette, with rosy cheeks and bright
dark eyes. In the brief pause before study-
time, the two girls made acquaintance, and
Peggy learned that theirs was the largest
freshman class the school had ever had. All
the others were in the west wing, where the
" You came late," said Rose Barclay, " and
that's why you are over among the Jews and
Seas. That's what they call the juniors and
seniors; I've learned so much already!" she
said, laughing. " They seem to have nicknames
for everything and everybody in this place."
" Yes ! " said Peggy. " Even the rooms
are named ! " and she told of Vanity Fair and
the Owls' Nest.
" Corridor A ? " asked Rose Barclay. " Oh,
they must be Jews. That is Judea, I am
pretty sure ; and the Senior Corridor is the
Mediterranean. It's awfully silly, isn't it?
and yet it's funny, too. I suppose we shall
get into the swing of it after awhile. You
homesick ? "
" So'm I ! Cry last night ? "
Peggy nodded again.
"So did I! but not so much as the girl
next door to me. My! she must have cried
about all night, I should think. I woke up
two or three times, and she was crying every
time, and I heard her sniffing in her bath
this morning." •
"Why didn't you go in and try to cheer
her up?" demanded Peggy, rather fiercely.
Rose Barclay stared. "Oh, I couldn't
do that ! why, I've never spoken to her ; it
was that queer little piece that sat next to
you. Besides, she looks as if she'd die if
any one spoke to her."
The school was called to order, and Peggy
soon forgot homesickness and everything else
in the keen joy of mathematics.
IN THE "gym/' 55
She had chosen the scientific course —
there were three courses in the school — in
order to get as much of practical and as little
of literary knowledge as might be. Geometry-
was her delight, and it was geometry over
which she was bending now.
Most of the teachers at Pentland School
expected httle of the new pupil from Ohio.
The written examinations that Peggy had
passed had caused many a head-shaking. The
history teacher sighed ; the gentle mistress
of English literature groaned, and said, " Why
must this child come* here?" Only Miss
Boyle, the mistress of mathematics, had
nodded her head over the papers. " Here's
a girl who knows what she is about ! " she
said. Accordingly, when Peggy entered class
this morning, she was surprised at the cor-
dial greeting she received from the bright-
eyed lady at the central desk ; and an inde-
finable sense of being at home and among
friends stole gradually over her, as she
wrestled with one delightful problem after
Rose Barclay, at her side, was biting her
pencil and twisting her pretty forehead into
hard knots, and making little progress ; but
Peggy had forgotten her existence. The
period passed like a moment, as theorem after
theorem was disposed of.
" Let EDF and BAG be two triangles, hav-
ing the angle E equal to the angle B, the
angle F to the angle C, and the included side
EF to the included side BC ; then will the
triangle EDF be equal to the triangle BAG ? "
" Of course it will ! " Peggy drew triangles
in swift and accurate demonstration. " Put
the side EF on its equal BG, and let the
point E fall on B, and the point F on G.
Then, you see, of course — "
" I don't see how any one is ever to do this ! "
murmured her neighbour, in despair. " Why !
why, you've done yours. Oh, just let me
see, won't you ? I never can work it out in
the world, so do let me copy yours ! "
Peggy reddened to the tips of her ears.
" Do you — can you — are we allowed to do
that ? " she stammered.
" Oh ! Just as you please ! " said Rose
Barclay, coldly. '^ I thought you might be
IN THE ^^GYM." 57
willing to oblige me, that's all. It's of no
consequence ! "
" Oh ! But you don't understand ! " whis-
pered Peggy, eagerly; but Rose had turned
away, and paid no heed to her; and Miss
Boyle tapped with her pencil and said,
" Young ladies ! No whispering in class, if
you please ! "
In a few minutes a bell rang, and all the
girls sprang up in great relief ; geometry was
not generally popular, and now came the
"gym" hour, dear to all. Peggy turned at
once to her neighbour, sure that she would be
able to explain everything to the satisfaction
of both. To her amazement and distress she
met a look so cold and hostile that it seemed
to freeze the words on her lips.
" Miss Barclay ! " she said, imploringly.
"You didn't understand me, indeed you
didn't. I should be perfectly delighted to
help you, of course I should, only I thought
it might be against the rules. Of course, I
might have known you would know what is
allowed. I'm awfully sorry ! "
Rose Barclay hesitated ; her face seemed
to soften for a moment ; then it hardened
again, and another change came over it which
Peggy did not comprehend.
" I don't know what you mean ! " she mut-
tered. " Please excuse me, I am in a hurry."
She was gone, and Peggy, turning in great
distress, found Miss Boyle standing at her
elbow. Had she heard? Peggy was sure
she could not have heard, for there was no
look of surprise or of anything peculiar in
her pleasant face.
" You like geometry. Miss Montfort ? ''
" Oh, yes, I love geometry ! Oh, please,
are we allowed to help each other, Miss
Boyle ? "
" Certainly not ! " said Miss Boyle, quietly.
"Not upon any account. You can see for
yourself that there would be no use in a girl's
taking geometry if she cannot do the work
" Yes, I see ! I thought so, only — thank
you very much. Do you — shall I go now ? "
She looked around, and was startled to see
that all the other girls had disappeared, and
she was alone with the teacher.
IN THE "gym." 59
Miss Boyle smiled, and her smile was so
friendly that it warmed poor Peggy's heart.
" Yes, you may go now," she said ; " but
I shall hope to see something of you, Miss
Montfort. If you will come to my room
some evening, I will show you some pretty
problems that are not in the text-books."
With this, the highest compliment she could
pay a pupil. Miss Boyle went on her way j and
Peggy, after wandering through two or three
deserted class-rooms, and breaking in upon a
senior committee-meeting of a highly private
nature, and walking into a pantry, found
herself at last in the gymnasium.
This was a lofty and spacious room, fitted
with every possible appliance for gymnastic
exercises. Peggy's eyes brightened as she
gazed about her, at the rope-ladders, the
parallel bars, the rings and vaulting-horses
and spring-boards. If this were not Para-
dise, Peggy did not know what was, that
Some of the girls were already arrayed in
blouse and full trousers, and were taking
their place in ranks, under the eye of an
alert, graceful young woman in a pretty
dark blue suit. Others were hurrying up
from some apartment on a lower floor, and
from the stairway came a hum of voices
which showed that others were still making
Bertha Haughton, in crimson blouse and
black trousers, hurried up to Peggy.
" Here you are ! '' she cried. " I have been
trying to find you. Where are your gym
things? Haven't got any? Oh, how too
bad ! "
" I didn't know ! " said poor Peggy. " It
didn't say in the programme, did it ? Can't I
do anything without them ? Oh, dear."
Her face, so bright a moment before,
clouded so instantly with disappointment and
mortification, that the experienced junior could
hardly repress a smile.
"My dear! my dear!" she cried. "Do
wait till I tell you. You can wear the
Snowy's things. She hasn't come back yet,
and you can wear them just as well as not
till she comes."
" The Snowy ? " repeated Peggy. She re-
IN THE " GYM." 61
membered vaguely that she had heard the
name, but it meant nothing to her in her
" Yes, my chum, the Snowy Owl. I'm the
Fluffy one, don't you remember ? The Snowy
is a bit taller than you, but that is no matter ;
you can wear them perfectly well, I tell you.
Come along, and I'll get you into them."
Peggy hung back, protesting faintly against
appropriating the clothes of a person she had
never seen ; but finally she yielded to Bertha's
vigorous pulls, and followed her down a wind-
ing stair, into a narrow room filled with a
hubbub of girls in every stage of dressing
and undressing. Viola Vincent fluttered up
to her (it is difficult to flutter in a gymna-
sium suit, and only Viola's supremely butter-
fly quality enabled her to do it), a charming
vision of pale blue, with a profusion of tiny
brass buttons twinkling wherever a button
could be put.
" Here you are ! " she cried, airily. " I
haven't seen you for an age. I've been tell-
ing everybody about you, the V. V's vis-^-vis.
It sounds so quaint, doesn't it ? I adore quaint-
ness. How do you like my new suit, Fluffy ?
Isn't it too cute for anything? This is the
first time I've worn it; I think it is too
perfectly sweet to live in, don't you?"
" I hope not ! " said Bertha, laughing.
"We should be sorry to have you pass
away, Vanity, because your dress is too
" No, but really ! " continued Viola, ear-
nestly. "Do I exaggerate. Fluffy? Isn't it
the sweetest thing you ever saw ? I ask be-
cause I want to know, you know ! "
Bertha's only reply was to pull her pink
ear good-naturedly, and then dive head-fore-
most into a locker.
" You find the Fluffy quaint ? " said Viola
to Peggy. " Yes ? she is quaint, but delicious !
So is the Snowy ! I simply could not exist
without them; they are the guiding stars of
the corridor, don't you know ? What are you
about, Fluffy ? What are you doing with the
Snowy's togs ? She has not come back, no ! "
clasping her hands in ecstasy. "JDorit tell
me the Snowy has come back. Fluff ! "
" I certainly won't ! " said Bertha, coolly.
IN THE "gym." 63
"She isn't coming back till day after to-
morrow. Peggy Montfort is going to wear
her things till her own are ready, that's all.
Don't excite yourself too much, Vanity ; it'll
take the colour out of your hair."
" No ! Do you think so ? " replied Viola ;
" really ? ah ! here's V., ready at last. What I
have to endure, V., waiting while you prink,
no tongue can tell. Ta, dears, come up
soon ! " and she fluttered away, arm in arm
with her chum.
"Is she always like that?" asked Peggy,
" Who ? Vanity ? Oh, yes ! there's no possi-
ble harm in Vanity; she is really the best
hearted creature in the world. The other,
though, — well, you want to be a little on
your guafd with Vivia. Oh, we are the best
friends in the world, of course ; only, her
temper is a little uncertain at times, and it's
just as well to know about it. There ! why,
the trousers fit you to perfection ! " The
trousers, as wide as the Flying Dutchman's,
certainly fell comfortably enough about Peg-
gy's stout knees.
" Now for the blouse ! I'll put it over your
head ! "
A silent but breathless struggle followed,
from which Peggy emerged panting and crim-
son, but victorious. " Oh, I do hope she —
your chum — won't mind!" she cried. "I
am so afraid I shall get them dirty ! " for it
was a whim of the Snowy Owl's to wear a
white gym suit, and it was as fresh as if it
were just out of the tub, as indeed it was.
" Oh, that is no matter ! She washes them
every week ; she likes to wash ; it's one of her
accomplishments. Come along now ! "
They ran up-stairs, and found the class just
forming in ranks. A gesture bade them fall
into line with the rest, and Peggy stood with
her toes on a chalk mark, waiting the word
It came. " Left foot forward — fall out ! "
At the command every girl put out her left
foot as far as she could, and flung her whole
weight forward on it. Peggy did the same,
and fell on her nose with a resounding crash.
The class giggled, but were sharply checked
by the teacher.
IN THE "gym." 65
" We will try this once more. Try to bal-
ance the body carefully ! Take time ! Once
more ! Left foot forward — fall out ! "
Again the line dropped forward with one
motion ; and again our poor Peggy fell on her
nose. " This time the nose protested in its way,
and bled ; great crimson drops fell on the white
plumage of the Snowy Owl. Almost crying
with distress and mortification, Peggy felt for
her handkerchief. Alas ! she was not used to
trousers, and no pocket could she find, though
there was one, and her handkerchief was in
it. What should she do? She was just
about to make a bolt for the stairs, when a
handkerchief was thrust into her hand. She
clapped it to her suffering nose, and looked
gratefully at her left-hand neighbour in the
ranks. The girl nodded slightly, and said,
" All serene ! better ask leave to retire. Hold
arms over head, stop it ! " She was a slender
girl, with a pensive face and melancholy blue
eyes. Her hair was plainly parted, Madonna-
fashion, and there was something remote and
old-world about her whole look and air.
"Oh, thank you!" murmured poor Peggy.
" You're awfully kind ! " She hoped the tire-
some bleeding would stop on the instant, but
it did not ; she was obliged to ask leave to go
down-stairs; and receiving it, dashed down
headlong, and cannoned violently against
Vivia Varnham, who had gone down for
something she had forgotten.
" Oh, I beg your pardon ! " gasped Peggy.
" I'm — awfully clumsy — "
" I think you are ! " said the other, with
a flash of her hazel eyes. " Perhaps you'll let
me pass now, please, before you make another
exhibition of yourself." She went on, with
a scornful toss of her head.
Poor Peggy ! her tears flowed fast over the
friendly handkerchief. "I wish I was dead ! "
she sobbed. " I wish I had never come to
this horrid, odious place, where everybody is
so hateful. And I can't hold up my arms
when I have to hold this to my nose all the
" Quite so! " said a quiet voice behind her.
The sad-looking girl took her hands and held
them straight up in one of her own, the other
keeping the handkerchief in position. No
IN THE "gym." 67
word was spoken, but in five minutes the
bleeding was stopped.
" Basin ^ — water ! " said the stranger. "Don't
mention it ! " as Peggy tried to falter her
thanks. And she was gone.
Peggy waited tUl she felt sure of herself
and her nose. Then she spoke severely to
herself, and asked what Uncle John would
say to such behaviour. " Everybody isn't
hateful ! " she said. "And anyhow, there are
some things there that I can do, if I haven't
learned this trick. I won't give up till I've
gone up that rope."
Her eye had been caught by a stout rope
dangling from the ceiling. This was in her
own line, and she felt that if she could redeem
herself in her own eyes, she should not care
so much about all those other laughing eyes.
And yet, perhaps she thought more about
those eyes than she was aware of, for our
Peggy was very human.
This time fortune favoured her. As she
emerged from the lower regions, a girl was
just trying to climb the rope; in fact, there
were three ropes hanging side by side, and
the climbing of them was part of the regular
exercise. She sought Bertha, who was most
sympathetic, not having been near enough to
^^ Climb the rope? Oh, you'd better not
try that, Peggy ! it takes a lot of practice.
Why, I've been here two years, and I can't
get to the top yet. Really, it's very hard.
Let's come and swing on the ring, if you are
quite sure about your poor nose."
But Peggy did not want to swing on the
rings, nor to do anything else that Bertha
proposed ; she wanted to climb that rope, and
she meant to do it ; the prairie blood was roused.
"Well, I'll ask Miss Brent," said good-
natured Bertha, finding her determined. " You
say you have had some experience in climbing?
Perhaps she'll let you go a little way up."
Miss Brent, interrogated, came and looked
Peggy over carefully ; felt her muscles, asked
her a few questions, and then said, " You may
have the next turn, Miss Montfort."
The girl on the rope next her was having
a sad time of it. She swung this way and
that; her legs waved wildly in the air, and
"UP THEY WKNT. HAND OVER HAND.
IN THE "gym/' 69
at length she came down "all abroad/' hav-
ing only ascended a few feet. At the same
moment, the girl on the next rope dropped,
so that two were left unoccupied. Peggy
advanced and laid her hand upon one rope,
just as Vivia Varnham took possession of the
other. On the third, the pensive girl with
the Madonna braids was swinging easily, half-
way up to the ceiling; she twisted her feet
around the rope, and, so resting, observed. the
progress of the other two.
Up they went, hand over hand. Vivia
Varnham gave a glance of disdain when she
saw who her rival was. She was light and
agile, and did not for an instant think that
this heavy, clumsy creature could make any
headway against her. She went up lightly and
easily, but somehow the heavy, clumsy creature
managed to keep abreast of her; was even
gaining upon her, drawing up, up, above her
head. Vivia put on a spurt, and passed
Peggy, climbing very swiftly — for a moment ;
then the ache in her wrists compelled her to
slacken her rate of speed, and the thickset
figure came up, up, steadily and surely. Truth
to tell, though Peggy Montfort was awkward,
she was as strong as a steer. Her weight
was not fat, but sheer bone and brawn ; and
her one hundred and forty pounds were easy
enough for her to carry, even up a rope thirty
feet long. But Vivia Varnham, with all her
lightness and quickness, had little strength in
her wrists. They ached painfully, but she
would not give up. Her face flushed, her
breath came in distressful gasps, she strug-
gled on and up. They were more than half-
way up ; they had passed the quiet observer,
swinging comfortably with her feet twisted in
her rope. "Better go down, V.!"said the girl
with the sad eyes. " She's too many for you ! "
Vivia shook her head with an angry ges-
ture. Her eyes swam, the pain in her wrists
was unendurable ; but she set her teeth, and
struggled on, till from below came the voice
of Miss Brent, calm and authoritative.
"Come down, Miss Varnham! You have
gone far enough."
Most unwillingly, with sullen face and flut-
tering breath, Vivia slid to the floor. She
expected, everybody expected, to hear the
IN THE "gym." 71
order repeated for the benefit of the new-
comer, the audacious freshman who had ven-
tured upon junior ground ; for the rope-
climbing was not generally attempted till the
third year. But Miss Brent kept her eyes on
Peggy, and smiled, and made no sign.
Peggy was enjoying herself immensely.
She was not a swift climber, but there was no
tiring her, and this, as she said to herself,
was " great ! " She wished Margaret could
see her ! No ! It would frighten dear Mar-
garet. Rita, then ! Rita loved feats of skill ;
probably she could climb far better than she,
Peggy, could ; Rita was so light, so graceful,
A shout rang from below. Something
passed her on the next rope, light and swift
as a bird in flight. She could almost touch
the ceiling now ; she looked up ; there, at the
very top of the next rope, was her friend of
the dressing-room, gazing at her with melan-
choly blue eyes, and holding out a slender
" Shake ! " said the girl with the Madonna
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT.
Peggy was sitting alone in her room that
evening, studying, when there rose a hubbub
outside her window ; wheels, and the tramp-
ling of horses, and girls' voices. She ran to
the window and looked out; there was a
great hay-rigging, drawn by four stout horses,
and comfortably lined with straw. Girls
were climbing into it on every side, and more
and more came pouring out of the house.
It was full moon, and their faces shone so
clear and merry in the light, that Peggy
could not help feeling a pang, not of envy,
but of longing. Of course there had been no
question of her going ; it was a junior affair ;
but they all looked so happy and jolly, and it
was so lonely here ! As she stood longing,
Viola Vincent popped her pretty head in to
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 73
"Thought you might like to see my
toque ! " she said, fluttering in the doorway.
" It's the first time I have had it on. Isn't it
dandy ? Isn't it perfectly sweet ? "
Peggy thought it charming, and said so;
she was rapidly losing her heart to her pretty
" I thought you'd like to see it ! " said
Viola, naively. " It makes it easier to study,
if you see something pretty. Ta, dear! I
wish you were going. We shall have a dandy
time, simply dandy ! "
She fluttered out, and left the door ajar
behind her, so that Peggy could not help hear-
ing the half-whispered colloquy that ensued
in the corridor.
" Went to say good-bye to the Veezy Vee.
Why shouldn't I ? "
"Why should you? You'll have her
around your neck if you don't take care,
like a lump, as she is."
"Hush, v.! you're quite vinegar, aren't
you? Why? She's perfectly harmless, and
I find her quaint. You know I adore quaint-
ness ! "
"Oh, come along, and don't talk flum-
mery to me ; you know I can't stand it."
The two passed on, and Peggy's ears
burned uncomfortably. Evidently Vivia Varn-
ham had taken a violent dislike to her ; well,
she certainly returned it. And of course
that would prevent her from ever seeing
much of the other, sweet pretty thing. Well,
of course she should have to be alone most
of the time. She went to the window again,
and saw the two Vs climbing in ; then there
was a great shouting and waving of handker-
chiefs, and they drove away. Peggy sighed,
and sat down once more to her task. It was
rhetoric, and her whole nature cried out
against it ; but the study was prescribed, and
the teacher. Miss Pugsley, was reported to be
very strict. Peggy put her elbows on the
table, and her head on her hands, and bent
in good earnest over the book.
" ' Both prepositions and conjunctions are
" Oil, dear ! then why can't we call them
connectives, and have one word to remember,
instead of three ?
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 75
"^When I say the hen barks' — why,
that makes nonsense ! Oh, I got two lines
mixed up. ' When I say the dog barks, I
speak of some particular dog.' Well, any-
body can see that. Oh, I do wonder if Flora
will remember to wash Peter's ear, where he
had the canker ! It was almost well, but still
it will need washing. Dear Peter ! dear dogs !
they will miss me, I know they will. If one
could only have a dog here, it wouldn't be
half so bad. I could have a basket for him
to sleep in, you know, and then in the morn-
ing he would get up on the bed, and we'd
have a beautiful time. There's a dog barking
now ! He wants to be let in, poor dear ! How
perfectly idiotic some people are, not to know
what a dog wants. I remember that stupid
man at home beating poor Peter, — beating
him with a hoe, when all the time Peter was
telling him that a tramp was stealing the
melons. Yes ; but when Petie saw that the
man was an idiot, he went and attended to
the tramp himself, and you never saw a
tramp so scared in your life. Oh, dear!
" ' He was in the room, and went out of it.' I
wish I could go out of this room ; but I don't
know where I should go to. Bertha went, of
course, with the others. If it wasn't for
Bertha, I really don't think I could possibly
A knock at the door ; and Bertha's square,
cheerful face looked in. " Any chance to
study here? there's something the matter
with my lamp, why, — Peggy!"
For Peggy had jumped up and thrown her
arms around her friend's neck, and given
her a hug which took her breath.
" Oh, you dear ! " cried Peggy. " I never
was so glad to see anybody in my life. Here,
take this chair. Bertha. Oh, it was just
lovely of you to come in. You knew I would
be forlorn, I know that was why you came.
But why didn't you go on the straw-ride?
I supposed of course you had gone."
" One question at a time," pleaded Bertha ;
"and I can't answer any if you destroy my
breathing apparatus, Hippolyta."
" Why Hippolyta ? "
" Oh ; she was Queen of the Amazons, don't
ENTER THE SCAPEGOATS. 77
you know ? Only because you are so strong,
"No," said Peggy, dolefully. "I never
heard of her. Margaret would know, but I
am awfully stupid, I told you I was. Do you
have rhetoric, Bertha ? "
" Not this year. I had it the first two
years. It's not so bad ; in fact, I was rather
fond of it."
Peggy gazed at her in such unfeigned
amazement that Bertha could not help laugh-
ing; but there was never any sneer in
Bertha's laugh. " Come ! " she said. " Now
we'll sit down and study our prettiest. See !
I have a lot of Greek to do. Peggy, don't
look like that ! What is the matter ? "
Peggy had recoiled in horror, her blue eyes
opened to their widest extent.
"Greek!" she cried. "You don't — I
sha'n't have to take Greek, shall I ? because
I would rather die, and I should die ! "
" Nonsense ! no, I don't know that you will
have to take it at all. What course have you
taken, — scientific? Oh, no, you don't have
Greek in that. What have you had to-day ? "
78 t PEGGY.
" Geometry ! Of course that was splendid/'
" Oh, indeed ! was it ? "
" Why, yes ; I just love geometry. I could
do it all day, but we only have it one hour/'
And Peggy looked injured.
" Well," said Bertha, " you are a queer girl,
Peggy Montfort. But there'll be one happy
person in this school, and that is Miss Boyle."
" I don't understand you ! Don't most girls,
— don't you like geometry. Bertha ? "
" My dear, I regard everything in the shape
of mathematics with terror and disgust. I
don't know any geometry, nor any algebra.
I've been through them both, and the more
I learned, the more I didn't know. As to
arithmetic, I know that four quarts make a
gallon, and that really is all my mind is equal
to. But if you won't let me study my Greek,
Peggy, I shall go home again to the Nest."
" Oh, I do ! I will ! " cried poor Peggy ;
and there was silence for a time, both girls
studying in earnest, the silence only broken
by the turning of a page, or a heartfelt sigh
from Peggy as she dealt with parts of speech.
So thoroughly were they absorbed in their
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 79
task that they did not hear sundry noises
outside the window. The window was open,
for the night was warm as well as bright;
indeed, the upper half of it was pushed en-
tirely down, so that it was like a double half-
door of glass. Outside this window was the
black skeleton of the fire-escape ; and if the
two girls had been on the alert, they might
have heard various unobtrusive sounds from
this direction. As it was, they both started
vi^ently when a clear voice addressed them
in quiet and thoughtful tones.
" Peace to this dwelling ! " said the voice.
Peggy looked up hastily. There, leaning
on the window-sash, as calm and composed as
she had been at the top of the rgpe, was the
stranger with the melancholy eyes and the
" Peace ! " she repeated. " Piece of pie !
have some ! " She held out a large segment
of pie, and added, "Any admittance for the
Peggy was still too startled to find breath
to answer, but Bertha sprang up, crjdng,
" Grace ! how could you frighten us so ? "
" Not Grace ! " said the stranger, with an
unmoved countenance. " Goat ! let us not
deceive the Innocent ! A scapegrace is one
thing, a scapegoat is another, and from some
points a preferable one. But the Innocent is
abroad, I perceive. Innocent, I am the Scape-
goat. Is there admittance ? "
" Oh ! " gasped Peggy, blushing and falter-
ing. " Oh, please come in ! I — I didn't know
you were waiting for me to — Sha'n't I open
it from the bottom ? "
" If you will take the pie," said the stranger,
gravely ; " thank you ; that is your piece, this
is mine, — already bitten, or I would offer it to
Relieved of two large pieces of pie, she laid
one hand on the sash, and vaulted lightly
over; then she shook hands solemnly with
Peggy, took her own piece of pie, and, seating
herself on the floor, proceeded to eat it daintily.
" It is a good pie ! " she said. " If not
afraid of pollution. Fluffy, a bite?"
Bertha was looking half amused, half angry.
" Grace, how can you act so ? " she said.
" How ? " said Grace. " My sweet child, it
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 81
is as easy as breathing. I will give instruc-
tion at any time, without charge."
"I thought you were doing double les-
sons/' Bertha went on, "and being as good
as gold. Grace, you can be so good 1"
" Can't I ! " said Grace j her tone was one
of admiring gravity ; her blue eyes kept their
look of pensive sadness.
" And it's a thing I admire, goodness ! " she
went on, shaking her head. " That's why I
practise it. Double lessons ? I'll warrant you !
this is the second time I have been down here
to-night, for example ; other things in propor-
tion." She waved her hand, and fell to again
at her pie.
Peggy had been sitting open-eyed, watching
this singular person, not knowing what to
say. Now, however, meeting the solemn
gaze of the large sad eyes, she felt compelled
" It — it's delicious ! " she said, timidly.
" Wouldn't you rather sit in a chair, Miss — "
she hesitated, not liking to say " Grace."
" Oh, dear ! " said Bertha, still put out.
^^ You make me forget my manners and
everything, Grace. Peggy, this is Miss Grace
Wolfe ; Grace, Miss Peggy Montfort."
"Charmed!" said Miss Wolfe. "But we
have met before, Fluffy, or I should not have
" We met, 'twas on a rope,
And I thought she had done me ;
I felt, I could not feel,
For my fate was upon me.
"If it hadn't been for your possession
of peas, you would have beaten me, Miss
Montfort. As it was, here's to our next
meeting under the ceiling ! " She took a large
bite of pie, and regarded Peggy benevolently.
" Of peas?" repeated Peggy, vaguely, feeling
that this might be English, but was not sense.
"Precisely. Avoir du poisy literally, to
possess a pea ! The French language. But
you should have seen Vexation ! " this strange
person added, turning to Bertha. " Did see
her ? Well, she was a pleasant sight. Noxious
animal, Vexation ! it is a joy to see her taken
"I notice you are good friends enough,
where any mischief is afoot ! " said Bertha,
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 83
bluntly. She broke a corner off the pie, and
added, " Goat, this is mince pie ! "
"It is! it is!" said Miss Wolfe. "Ever
discriminating, my own ! and good ? say it is
good. Fluffy ! "
" Yes, it is uncommonly good ! " said
Bertha. " Where did you get it ? You've no
business to have it, of course ! "
" I got it out of a bandbox, sweet one ! "
replied Grace Wolfe. "It lives — they live,
I should say, for there are three of them,
thanks be to praise ! — in a bandbox. A
round one, or, to be more exact, oval in form,
covered with wall-paper, whereon purple
scrolls dispute the mastery with pink loz-
enges. It's the sweetest thing in bandboxes
that I've seen since time was."
" Yes, but the pies ! "
" The pies ! as I was saying, three of them ;
ample, full moons of rapture !
" They came in beauty, side by side,
They filled one home with glee.
Their bones are scattered — "
She paused with an expressive gesture.
" The best of it is, — you will admit that
this is neat, Fluffy, even if your slavery to
the virtues compels your disapproval, — the
best of it is, the bandbox is the property of
" Miss Pugsley's bandbox ! Oh, Grace ! "
" Precisely ! Our Puggy goes heavily with-
out it, I am told. What would you ? It was
outside her door, while sweeping was going
on; one is human, after all. She was out,
with the best bonnet on her head. Poor head !
Poor bonnet ! My hearty commiseration for
both ! When she returned, no bandbox ! At
present she harries the domestics ; she hasn't
thought of me yet, for a wonder. To-mor-
row, or the day after, I shall finish the pies
— alas ! Then I return the repository, and
her bonnet acquires a fine, full, fruity flavour
that annihilation alone can remove.
*< You may break, you may shatter
The tile if you will,
But the scent of the brandy
Will cling round it still."
" Grace ! What a diabolical plot ! and you
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 85
have been lying awake, I suppose, chuckling
over this ! "
Miss Wolfe waved her hand in deprecation.
" Not lying awake, sweet one ! Too slight a
thing for that; still, it served to amuse.
One must live, even you will admit that.
What's this ? Greek ? Give it me ! " She
stretched out her hand for the book, but
Bertha held it fast.
" No ! no. Goat ; I want it myself, and
besides, you have no business here, you know
" No ; and you ? " replied the other,
"I have permission; my lamp is out of
order, and I asked Miss Russell if I might
study in here." said Bertha. " But you will
get into trouble if you stay, Grace, you know
you will. Be good now, and go home ! "
Grace Wolfe gazed pensively at her.
"You would check the interchange of
souls ? " she said. " I feel drawn to this
Innocent, Flu£E ! I feel that she may have an
influence over me for good. You would not
part us ? Could'st love a Goat, Innocent ? "
she added, turning to Peggy, and fixing her
eyes on her with mournful intensity.
Peggy blushed, but before she could reply
Bertha struck in decidedly.
" Grace, just one word ! Peggy Montfort is
a stranger, and I am not going to let her get
into trouble if I can help it. And I don't
want you to get into trouble, either ! " she
added, more gently. " You know, my dear — "
She stopped suddenly, for Grace Wolfe
threw up her hand with a warning gesture;
then, with a single swift movement, she
rolled under the bed, and was out of sight.
"Study!" said Bertha, in a low whisper.
" Study hard ! "
Wholly bewildered, Peggy fixed her eyes
on her book. She had heard no sound before,
but now cam^ a footfall in the corridor. A
knock at the door, and Miss Russell opened
it and looked in.
" Your lamp is in order now. Bertha," she
said. " I thought I would tell you, as I was
going by ; but you can stay a little longer, if
you like. How charming you have made
your room. Miss Montfort."
ENTER THE SCAPEGOAT. 87
Won't — won't you come in, Miss Rus-
sell?" stammered poor Peggy, conscious of
Grace Wolfe's eyes under the bed, yet feeling
that civility admitted of only one answer.
" Not now, thank you ! Some day soon
I shall come and make you a little visit,
though, with pleasure. Good night, young
ladies ! "
She nodded kindly, closed the door, and
The girls drew breath. A moment, and
Grace Wolfe rolled out again, rose, and shook
her neat dress.
"So much for Buckingham!" she said.
"The good point about Principie is, she is
respectable. Now, my Puggy would have
looked through the keyhole first. But I fore-
see a visit to my own humble cot, to see
whether I have learned my lessons.
" Oh ! Farewell, friends !
Here Thisbe ends!"
She waved her hand, vaulted once more
over the window, and was gone. An occa-
sional faint, cat-like sound told of her prog-
ress up the fire-escape ; then a window
creaked slightly overhead, and all was silent.
Bertha Haughton ruffled up her curly black
locks with a gesture of exasperation.
" And the worst of it is/' she said, " that
girl will know her Greek better than any one
in class. That's half the trouble ; she learns
so quickly, her lessons don't take half her
time, and she puts the rest into mischief."
" She seems awfully clever ! " said Peggy,
Bertha nodded. "She is just that, my
dear; awfully clever! I'll tell you more
about her to-morrow, but now we must study
hard, for we've only twenty minutes left.
Only, my dear, when you think of the Goat,
remember three things: she is D. D. D., —
dear, delightful, — and dangerous ! "
TO THE KESCUE.
The next morning proved a hard one for
Peggy ; the rhetoric lesson was the first that
must be recited. She had studied it hard,
but somehow the rules seemed to make little
impression. Whenever she tried to fix them
in her mind, there came between her and the
page two melancholy blue eyes, and she
seemed to hear a voice of singular quality,
a voice with a thrill in it, saying, "Could'st
love a Goat, Innocent ? "
So she was not as well prepared as she
should have been when she went into the
class; and on meeting Miss Pugsley's cold
greenish brown eye, what she did know
seemed to evaporate from the top of her
head, leaving a total blank. She stumbled
and floundered ; she did not know what an
antecedent was, and she could not remember
ever to have heard of a reciprocal pronoun.
" Pray, Miss Montfort, were you asleep or
awake when you studied this lesson?" in-
quired Miss Pugsley, with acrid calm.
" I don't know ! " replied Peggy, now thor-
"Well, if you were asleep, let me recom-
mend you to try it again when you wake up ;
or if you were awake, perhaps you might do
it better in your sleep."
Peggy flushed scarlet, and the ready tears
sprang into her eyes ; but she forced them
back, bit her lip, and tried not to feel the
eyes of the whole class bent on her in amused
astonishment. Miss Pugsley seemed to take
positive pleasure in her ignorance and embar-
rassment. She put one question after another,
each more ingeniously contrived than the
last — or so it seemed — to show what Peggy
did not know. At last, in self-defence, the
poor child took refuge in one simple and inva-
riable answer: "I don't know!" So con-
fused was she that these w^ds were the only
ones she could utter, even when she knew
TO THE KESCUE. 91
the correct answer, or would have done so if
she could have collected her wits. By the
end of the hour, Peggy was entirely con-
vinced that she was the dunce and butt of
the school ; that she knew nothing, and never
would know anything.
It seemed a cruel stroke of fate that this
terrible period should be followed by that of
general history, for Peggy detested history,
as some of my readers already know. She
went into the next class-room with an aching
head, and a heart throbbing with a sense of
utter worthlessness in herself, and of bitter
cruelty in others. She did not even look up at
the teacher, but kept her eyes fixed on her
desk, and answered the few questions that
meant anything to her, sullenly and unwill-
ingly. She did try at first to follow the
lesson, but her head ached so, the words
seemed to sing themselves into mere non-
sense, and she soon gave up the attempt ; the
more so as this teacher, who had been ob-
serving her pretty closely, for some reason or
other asked her very few questions. At last,
however, the blow fell.
" Where did Philip of Macedon come from,
Miss Montf ort ? "
" I don't know," sp^id Peggy.
" Oh, I think you do/' said Miss Cortlandt,
with a pleasant smile, and checking, with a
warning glance, the rising giggle.
"Try again. Miss Montfort. Philip the
Great, Philip of Macedon, — where did he
come from ? Surely you can tell me ! "
"I don't know," said Peggy, doggedly;
and at the moment she actually did not.
" My dear child," said the teacher, " did you
ever hear what was the colour of Washington's
gray mare ? "
" No, ma'am," said Peggy*
" Well, what was it ? "
"I don't know."
Emily Cortlandt had graduated from college
the year before. She laid down her pencil,
and looked very kindly at the distracted
"I think you are not feeling well, Miss
Montfort," she said. " Does your head ache ? "
" Yes, ma'am," said Peggy. She could not
have said another word ; her whole strength
TO THE RESCUE. 93
was needed to keep back the flood of tears
that was rising, rising.
"You need not stay through the lesson/'
Miss Cortlandt went on, and the sympathy in
her voice only brought the flood higher and
" You can make up the lesson to me some
other time. Now, you would better go and lie
down for a little, and then take a turn in the
fresh air. Miss Bangs, what was the date of
Philip's first invasion ? "
Peggy never knew how she got out of the
class-room. She longed to give at least a
grateful look at the kind soul who had saved
her, but her eyes were already swimming in
tears. She fled along the corridor, sobbing
hysterically, blinded with tears^ conscious of
only one thing, the desperate resolve to get
to her room, before she broke down altogether.
Flying thus around a corner, she rushed head-
long into a group of girls who were gathered
around something, she could not tell what.
So violent was the shock that Peggy reeled
and struck her head sharply against the wall.
This brought her to herself. She caught back
the sob on her lips, and dashed the tears
from her eyes before any one saw them, —
or so she hoped ; then she looked to see what
was going on. Next moment she had for-
gotten that there were such things as tears
in the world.
There were six or eight girls in the group,
mostly sophomores, though a few were fresh-
men. They were looking down at something
— somebody — crouching on the floor against
the wall, and their laughter, checked for an
instant by Peggy's onset, broke out afresh.
" Here's Peggy Montfort, just in time to see
the fun. Look, Miss Montfort, and see the
fashions ! Straight from Paris, and the very
last thing ! "
The speaker was Blanche Haight, a tall
sophomore with bleached hair, and eyes set
too near together. She was considered a wit,
and every time she spoke the other girls
giggled and screamed.
The person crouching on the floor was
Lobelia Parkins. Her head was pressed
against the wall, her face hidden in her
hands ; misery and terror were in every line
TO THE RESCUE. 95
of her poor little shrinking figure, but this
only gave added delight to her tormentors.
" Look, ladies, at the new sleeve ! " cried
Miss Haight, lifting the skinny arm, from
which the blue poplin sleeve hung in an
awkward fashion. "Did you ever see any-
thing so exquisite ? Look at the fringe, will
you, and the pattern ? I'm going to get Miss
Russell to put her up on exhibition, so the
whole school can have the benefit; it's a
shame to keep it to ourselves ! "
" He ! he ! he ! " went all the girls. " Blanche,
you are too funny for anything ! "
"Where did your mother get it?" asked
another ; and this, as Peggy saw with a shock,
was pretty Rose Barclay. " Did the ragman
bring it around, or did she pick it up in the
gutter ? Say, Miss Parkins, I wish you'd tell
us, 'cause we all want to know."
" Yes, of course we want to know ! " cried
Miss Haight. " I'm going to write this very
night, to see if Mumma can't get me one like
it. I never shall be happy till I — "
That sentence never was finished. The
speaker found her own arm seized in a grip
of iron, which forced her to drop the poor
little arm in the blue sleeve. She was forced
back against the wall, and found herself
confronted by a pair of blue eyes blazing with
"How dare you?" cried Peggy Montfort,
in a voice that quivered with rage. " You
mean, cowardly brute, how dare you ? Touch
her again, and I'll choke the words down your
throat ! "
Blanche Haight gasped for a moment ; in-
deed, the whole group was cowed by this
sudden vision of strength and fury. But she
recovered herself in a moment.
" Well, indeed ! " she said. " I should like
to know what this means. Miss Montfort ? I
should like to know who gave you authority
to choke people, and abuse them, and call
them names ? "
" You'll find out what it means ! " said
Peggy, waiving the second question, and re-
plying to the first. " If you touch that child
again, or so much as speak to her, I'll choke
" Girls, do you hear this ? " cried Blanche
TO THE RESCUE. 97
Haight. ^'^Are you going to stand by, and
let this girl ride over us?"
" Shame ! " cried the giris. " Bully ! ''
" Bully ! " cried Peggy, dropping her hold
of Miss Haight, and turning to face the others.
" You call me a bully, and you yourselves,
eight great grown girls, standing around to
torment and torture this poor helpless child ?
Shame on you ! Shame on you all, every one !
I'm ashamed to be in the same school with
you. I — " (Here, I am sorry to say, Peggy
forgot that she was a young lady, forgot
everything save that she was the daughter of
hot-blooded James Montfort.) " I could whip
the whole lot of you, and I'll do it if you
dare to say ' Boo ! ' but you don't ! "
It was a fact that no one did say " Boo ! "
There was a pause, Peggy standing with folded
arms before the shrinking child, her whole
figure dilated with passion, till she seemed
to tower above the rest, who for their part
cowered before her.
Rose Barclay was the first to speak.
"We are very fortunate to find a leader
for the freshman class," she said, spitefully.
" and such a leader ! Miss Montf ort is too
high-toned to help a classmate with her lesson,
but not too high-toned to talk like a Bowery
rowdy. Come, along, girls ! I for one don't
care to listen to any more such refined, elegant
talk ! "
^' Yes, you'd better go along ! " said Peggy,
the Valkyr, briefly.
"Pray, may I ask," said Blanche Haight,
with a bitter sneer, " are you monitor of this
"No," said a voice behind her; "but I am."
A girl had come quietly up the stairs, and
was now standing close beside the excited
group, none of whom had seen or heard her,
— a tall girl, with red-gold hair, dressed as if
she had just come from a journey.
"I am the monitor of this corridor," she
repeated. "Please go to your rooms, or I
shall be obliged to report you."
The girls shrunk together, whispering, the
freshmen questioning the sophomores.
"Who is it? Who is it?"
" Hush ! It's the junior president. Come
along ! "
TO THE KESCUE. 99
The group melted away ; another moment,
and all were gone save Peggy, who was now
on the floor, with her arms around the little
miserable creature, who still shrank close
against the wall, as if her life depended
on the contact.
" There, dear ! " she cried. " They are
gone. Come ! Don't huddle up so, you poor
little thing. Those brutes are gone, and
there's nobody here but me, Peggy, and — "
she glanced up at the tall girl. " Oh ! won't
you help me?" she cried. "I think — she
doesn't seem to hear what I am saying. Oh,
is she dead?"
" No," said the monitor. " I think she has
fainted, though, poor little soul ! We must
carry her to her room. Do you know where
it is ? I have only just come back, and don't
know where the freshmen are."
" No, I don't know, but I'll take her to my
room; I'm in No. 18. Oh, I can carry her
alone ; she's all skin and bone ; she doesn't
The little figure in the staring poplin gown
hung quite limp, as Peggy lifted it. " You'd
better let me help," said the tall girl, kindly.
" We can make her more comfortable ; so ! "
Together they carried her to Peggy's room,
and laid her on the bed. It was really more
fright and distress than actual fainting, for
she soon opened her eyes, and looked eagerly
at Peggy, but closed them again with a faint
cry, at sight of the stranger.
" You needn't be - afraid of her ! " cried
Peggy, eagerly. " She isn't one of them ;
she's none of that horrid crowd. "I don't
know who you are," she said, " but I'm ever
and ever and ever so much obliged to you. I
don't know whether you heard what they
And she poured out an indignant account
of the cruelty she had witnessed and put
a stop to. The stranger's eyes were stern
enough, as she listened. " I heard only the
end of it," she said, briefly, " but where I see
Blanche Haight, I am never surprised at any-
thing cruel or cowardly. I am very glad to
know you ; it was a mercy that you happened
to come along just then. I hope we shall be
friends, Miss — is it Miss Montfort ? "
TO THE RESCUE. 101
" Oh, that I will ! " cried Peggy, respond-
ing with all her warm heart to the sweet
smile and the lovely look in the clear blue
eyes. " Oh, I should like to ever so much ;
but I don't know your name, do I ? "
The stranger smiled again. "They call
me the Snowy Owl," she said, " but my name
is Gertrude Merryweather."
THE owl's nest.
When Peggy escorted Lobelia Parkins back
to her room, she found that it was the one
directly above her own. Point for point, the
rooms were alike, fire-escape and all, — so far
as the actual outlines were concerned ; there,
however, the likeness ended. There had been
no Uncle John, no Margaret, in this case.
The room was furnished, evidently, by the
same hand that had dressed the girl, and with
equal taste. The carpet on the floor was
costly, but hideous as staring colours and
execrable design could make it. The furni-
ture was cumbrous, and the fact that the
ugly chairs were rosewood, and their cushions
brocade, made them neither beautiful nor
comfortable. On the bureau were some bottles
of red Bohemian glass, such as were thought
THE owl's nest. 103
handsome fifty years ago ; an elephant of a
writing-desk, staring with plush and gilding,
almost covered the table. Altogether, the
room was as desolate as its occupant; more
could not be said. Lobelia seemed smaller
and more shrunken than ever amid all this
tasteless display ; she seemed conscious of it,
too, as she gazed piteously at Peggy. She
had been crying, in a furtive, frightened way ;
and, gazing at her, Peggy felt that it must be
years ago that she was crying, too, and hoping
for nothing in the world save to get to her
room and have a good solid deluge of tears.
At present it seemed hardly likely that she
should ever weep again ; she felt strong and
confident, and was still burning with indigna-
tion, none the less hotly that the outward
flame had gone down. Her kind companion
had been obliged to leave them, with the
promise of seeing them soon again. Peggy
thought she might stay a few minutes, though
the gong for gym had already rung.
" Now, Lobelia," she was saying, — " I am
going to call you Lobelia, you know, and you
are to call me Peggy, and we are going to be
friends. Now, Lobelia, mind what I say ! if
those girls ever give you any more trouble,
you are to come straight to me. Do you
hear ? "
" Yes," said Lobelia, faintly.
" Have they tormented you before ? Beasts !
Or was this the first time ? "
"Oh, not — not so much!" said the girl,
deprecatingly. "A little yesterday; but —
I don't know whether they meant to be
unkind, Peggy. I know that my dress is
queer ! "
" Don't be so meek ! " cried Peggy, unable
to repress a little stamp of her foot, which
made Lobelia start. " Have some spirit of
your own. Lobelia. I tell you, these girls
are mean, cowardly wretches, not fit for girls
like the Owls to speak to. They don't speak
to them much, either," she added, " and I'm
not going to any more than I can help."
Lobelia looked more miserable than ever.
" Don't ! " she said. " I can't bear to have
any one get into trouble on my account. It
— it needn't matter to you, Peggy. Of course
you are very, very kind, and I think I should
THE owl's nest. 105
have died if you had not come along just
then, for I couldn't seem to bear much more ;
but I don't want you to get into trouble."
"Who's going to get into trouble?" de-
manded Peggy. "Guess I can take care of
myself against such a set as that."
" I don't want you to get into trouble ! "
repeated Lobelia; and, as she spoke, she
glanced around the room with a peculiar
shrinking look, one would say a look of dread,
that Peggy did not understand.
" Who's next door to you ? " she asked,
briefly. " Rose Barclay, for one, I know. Who
is on the other side ? "
Lobelia thought it was another freshman,
but was not sure.
" Have they troubled you ? " asked Peggy,
But Lobelia shook her head, and seemed so
distressed at the question that Peggy did not
know what to think.
" Please, please don't bother about me ! "
she implored. " I dare say it will be a good
deal better now, after you and Miss Merry-
weather being so brave and so kind. I don't
want to say anything against anybody. Please,
please forget all about it, Peggy."
"I want you to be brave yourself/' cried
Peggy ; and Lobelia started again, and shrank
in her chair. "Don't be so — so — well, I
don't know any word but meeching, and
Margaret won't let me say that. But have
a spirit of your own, and stand up to them,
and give 'em as good as they send. I would,
I tell you, quick enough, if they tried it on
Lobelia looked at her with hopeless eyes.
" But I am not you ! " she said. " I — Peggy,
I know just how I look, and how I seem, and
how little and ugly and queer I am. I don't
wonder they laugh, I don't, really. I haven't
any spirit, either; I can't have. You can't
do anything with me ; it isn't any use."
Peggy gazed at her, with eyes almost as
hopeless as her own. Yet she must make one
more attempt ; and with it the honest blood
came into her face.
^^Look here. Lobelia ! " she said, " I am awk-
ward, too, and shy, and — and stupid, awfully
stupid. Why, my cousin Rita used to call me
THE owl's nest. 107
— never mind, that was only before she grew
so kind ! But I know what it is to be laughed
at, my dear ! Only this morning, in rhetoric,
Miss Pugsley was just as hateful as she could
be, and all the girls laughed ; yes, they did.
So you are not so different as you think.
Why, — I don't mind telling you, — when I
came along just now, I was trying to get to
my own room, so that I could have a good
cry. There, Lobelia ! now how do you
feel ? " Lobelia raised her eyes with a won-
dering look; but next moment her eyes fell
on the looking-glass and she shook her
" No ! " she said. " No, Peggy ! You are
kind, and you want to make me feel comfort-
able ; but look ! "
She motioned toward the mirror. Peggy
looked, and her kind heart sank. She her-
self was no beauty ; her round, fair face and
honest blue eyes were pleasant to look at,
and she had beautiful hair, but that was all ;
yet she could not help seeing that she was a
very vision of loveliness beside the sallow,
puny, almost deformed aspect of her poor
little neighbour. She coloured deep with
angry sympathy, but Lobelia only smiled, a
wan little smile.
"You see!" she said. "It's no use,
For all answer, Peggy threw her arms
around the shrinking figure, and pressed it in
a warm embrace. " I don't care ! " she cried.
" I don't say you are pretty, you poor little
thing, but just remember that you are my
friend, and if anybody dares to meddle with
you again, they'll have to reckon with
me, that's all. And now I must go, or I
shall lose all the drill. Cheer up. Lobelia,
and don't sit here and mope, mind! and if
you have any more trouble, just knock on
the floor, and I'll be up in half a quarter of
a jiffy. Good-bye, dear ! " and off she ran,
feeling that at least she had left some degree
of comfort and cheer behind her.
Soon, however, came something that put
Lobelia Parkins and her troubles out of Peg-
gy's head for the time. Bertha Haughton
was not at the gymnasium, but when Peggy
came back to her own room after an hour of
THE owl's nest. 109
rapture, she found a note pinned on her
"Dear Peggy: — Study hard^ please, and get
through before this evening. The Snowy Owl is
going to give us a Grand Tell about the wedding
she has been to, and we both want you to come, too.
I'm going to speak to Miss Russell, but you'd better
ask her, too ; it will be all right, for the Snowy has
asked permission, anyhow. Eight o'clock, just after
reading ; be sure to come on time !
It was hard to study through that lovely
afternoon, w^hen the other girls, or most of
them, were out-of-doors, playing tennis or
basket-ball, and their voices came in at the
window in every tone of joyousness and de-
light. It was very hard to study the detested
rhetoric and history, but Peggy was strong in
her good resolve, and bent steadily over her
books, trying her very best. Once, indeed,
came a sore temptation, when a ball struck
her window lightly, and, going to look out,
she saw Grace Wolfe standing below.
Come out, Innocent ! " said the Scapegoat,
in her deep, musical tones. '' Come and sport
with me !
" The ship is ready and the wind blows fair,
And I am bound for the sea, Mary Anne !
" Oh ! Oh, thank you ! " cried Peggy. " I
wish I could, but I have to work now, I'm
" Is this a time to think o' wark,
Wi' Scapegoat at the door ? "
inquired Grace, looking up with her head on
one side. " Why work at this hour, Innocent?
Even the slaves of virtue, even the Owls, are
at play now."
Peggy leaned out of the window ; it really
seemed as if her body would be drawn out
after her longing spirit, which had been
out and away from the first summons.
" Yes, the Owls ! " she said. " That's just
it, Miss Wolfe."
" No ! " interrupted Grace. " Not Miss
Wolfe ! Not all ^sop ! Impossible to be
wolf and goat at the same time, and do jus-
THE owl's nest. Ill
tice to either character. Let it be Goat, or
Grace, as you like."
" Grace, then, thank you ! Well, you see,
the Owls, — that is. Bertha asked me to come
to their room this evening, and of course I
want to dreadfully, — though not more dread-
fully than I want to come out now," she
added, wistfully. " And if I do, you see, I must
get my rhetoric done. It's awfully hard, and
I am so stupid about it, it takes me for ever.
Oh, will you ask me again some time,
please ? "
The Scapegoat regarded her for a moment,
standing with the ball in her hand, swaying
her light, graceful body to and fro.
" Another slave of virtue ? " she said. " Can
I permit this ? Innocent, I have half a mind
to cause you to come down. I am to be
thrown over for owls, who have, if you will
consider the matter, neither horns nor hoofs ?
I am to let you stay and grind through
the afternoon for them and for my Puggy?
Well — "
Her whole face seemed to lighten with
whimsical determination. She laid her hand
on the fire-escape, and seemed on the point of
mounting it, when suddenly another change
came over her. Her eyes darkened into their
usual melancholy look.
" Here's luck ! " she said, abruptly. " See
you later. Innocent ! " She was gone, and
Peggy, with a revulsion of feeling, wished
she had gone with her. Bertha was a dear,
and Miss Merryweather looked lovely, but
neither of them had the fascination of this
strange girl, so unlike any one she had ever
seen in her life.
It was a forlorn afternoon; but Peggy
stuck to her work manfully, and had the
satisfaction of closing the book at last with
the feeling that she was sure of it now, how-
ever things might be in the morning under
Miss Pugsley's hostile eye.
There was still a little time left before
supper. She ran out to the lawn, hoping to
find Grace Wolfe still there, but she was
disappointed. The only occupants of the
lawn were half a dozen sophomores clustered
together at one end. Blanche Haight was
among them, and at sight of Peggy she turned
THE owl's nest. 113
her back pointedly, and whispered to the
others. They turned with one accord and
stared at Peggy, with a cool insolence that
made her blood boil within her and surge up
in angry red to her forehead. She could not
do anything about it; they had a right to
stare, if they had no better manners. She
returned the look for a moment, then turned
away with a sore and angry heart. Fortu-
nately, at this moment came out two class-
mates of her own whom she knew slightly, —
mild, pleasant girls, with no special traits of
interest, but still friendly and approachable.
They were going to play tennis, and invited
Peggy to join them ; so she had a good half-
hour of exercise and pleasure, and came in
with rosy cheeks, and with the cobwebs all
blown away for the time.
At eight o'clock Peggy was standing before
her glass, putting a last touch to her hair,
and surveying her image with some anxiety.
Did she "look nice?" Peggy had as little
personal vanity as a girl could well have ; but
she had learned from her cousin Margaret
that it was part of her duty to look as well
as she could. Her cousin Rita would have
had her go further than this.
" Study, my child," Rita would cry, " to
be beautiful ! Let it be your dream by night,
your thought by day ! " And, in all kindness,
Rita would try to teach her how to cross her
feet so that they might look slender, how to
extend her little finger when she raised her
hand, " not too much, but to an exact point,
cherie!'' how to turn her head so as to
show the lines of the neck to advantage. But
Peggy's own good sense, aided by Margaret's
calm wisdom, had told her the inappropriate-
ness of Rita's graceful airs and poses to her
own sturdy personality. She was to look
nice ; more she could not aspire to. So here
she was to-night, in a pretty blue silk waist,
with a serge skirt of a darker shade, her hair
smoothly braided in one mammoth " pigtail,"
and tied with blue ribbons, her neat collar
fastened with a pretty pearl brooch. Thus
attired, our Peggy was truly pleasant to look
upon; and her "Is that right, Margaret?"
brought a little satisfied nod of reply from
the smiling image in the glass.
THE owl's nest. 115
Drawing near the Owl's Nest, she heard a
hum of voices, and straightway her heart
sank again, and shyness possessed her. There
was a crowd there ! They would all be
juniors and seniors, and she the only freshman
among them. How could she go in? Oh!
she almost wished she was up in the other
corridor with the younger girls !
But at this moment the door opened, and
Bertha's kind face looked out.
" Here you are, Peggy ! " she cried, cor-
dially. " Come along ; there's plenty of room,
for I've saved a place for you. Come ! "
For a moment Peggy hung back, and knew
how Lobelia Parkins felt ; then she made an
effort, and followed Bertha into the room.
The Owl's Nest was a corner room, with
windows on two sides. It seemed to be fur-
nished chiefly with books. There were the
two brass beds, of course, the twin bureaus,
the desks, and table. All of these, except
the beds, were covered with books; book-
shelves took up most of the wall space, though
there were two or three good pictures, among
them a great photograph of the sea, that
almost dashed the spray in one's face, so per-
fect was it. It was at a later visit that Peggy
observed the books ; now, she was conscious
of nothing save the girls. The room was
certainly full of them. There were three on
each bed, curled up in every variety of pic-
turesque and comfortable attitude; two sat
on one of the bureaus, having pushed books
and toilet articles up into a toppling and
highly perilous mountain behind them; four
more crouched somehow on the rather narrow
window-seats. The rest were on the floor,
except two early birds, who had come in time
to get the two chairs. The floor was made
comfortable with sofa-pillows, borrowed from
the whole length of the corridor. Altogether,
there might have been twenty girls in the
room, and every girl was, or seemed to be,
talking as fast as her tongue could move.
Peggy was hailed with a bird-like call from
" My Veezy-vee ! come here, Peggy Mont-
fort, and sit by me."
It was Viola Vincent. She was curled up
at the head of one of the beds. She wore the
THE owl's nest. 117
prettiest pink tea-gown imaginable, and her
hair was a wonder of puffs and curls.
" Come here ! " she repeated, patting the
pillows. " Lots of room ; miles ! Let her
come here, Fluffy ! "
"Yes, she shall, in a minute, V." replied
Bertha. "But first, — Toots, here's Peggy
Montfort ! "
The Snowy Owl came swiftly out of the
closet, where she had been performing some
mystic rite ; she took Peggy's two hands in
hers, and held them in a warm, firm grasp
that was the very soul of cordiality.
" I'm so glad ! " she said. " How's the poor
little thing ? Better ? I'm sure you did her
a great deal of good."
" Oh, no ! " stammered Peggy, pleased and
confused. "I couldn't really do anything;
but she is feeling better."
Gertrude Merryweather nodded wisely.
" My dear, you can do a great deal for her ! "
she said. "We'll have a talk sometime; no
chance now. Only, Bertha has been telling
me things, and I'm so glad you are in our
street ! There, now V, shall have you."
Judge of the glow at Peggy's heart, on
these words from the Junior President, the
best-loved girl — or so it was said — in the
whole school. Those . foolish tears actually
got half-way up to her eyes, — only they were
very different from the last tears ; but fortu-
nately Viola's high-pitched babble drove them
" My dear ! How nice you look ! perf 'ly
fine ! doesn't she, V. ? Say, that's a dandy
pin you've got on, simply dandy ! There !
isn't this too quaint for anything? You
comfy ? so'm I ! Room, my dear ? gallons of
room ! I haven't seen you for an age ; where
have you kept yourself ? I looked into your
room, though, and it's perf'ly fine ! I told
you it would be, when you had things fixed.
Your chintz is too perfectly sweet for any-
thing ; isn't it, V. ? We were simply cold
with envy, weren't we, V. ? "
" Do cackle for yourself, if you must cackle,
V. ! " responded Vivia Varnham, who sat on
the same bed, a little lower down. " I can't
hear myself think, you make such a noise."
"No, really?" cried Viola. "But that
THE owl's nest. 119
must be such an advantage sometimes, V.
But, say! we came here to hear the Snowy
talk, didn't we ? She hasn't had much chance
yet, has she ? Are you ready to talk. Snowy ?
Oh, you duck ! it is too perfectly enchanting
to have you back again. I haven't lived since
you went away, have I, V. ? I've been simply
a vegetable, haven't I, V. ? Potatoes, my
dear, are lively compared to me. Are you
ready to talk. Snowy ? "
" If you are ready to have me," replied the
Snowy Owl, laughing. "First, however —
here ! "
She produced a mammoth box of " marsh-
mallows," and handed it around. It was
received with a shout.
"Toast 'em!" cried one. "Hat-pins!"
cried another. There was a movement toward
the gas-jet ; but Bertha Haughton checked it
decidedly. " You have come here to hear the
Snowy tell ! " she said. " It's a long tell, and
if you begin toasting now, there won't be
time. Tell first, toast afterward ! that's what
" Hark to the Fluffy ! she speaks well ! "
cried the girls. There was silence; and
Gertrude Merryweather, sitting on the floor,
with her hands clasped around her knees,
began her "tell."
^' To begin with, girls, this is Fluffy's idea,
not mine ! Of course none of you ever saw
our Hildegarde, so I didn't suppose you would
I care particularly ; but when I was telling the
Fluffy last night, she said it was selfish and
all kinds of things to keep it to ourselves,
and that you must all hear about it ; so if you
don't find it interesting, pull out the Fluffy's
feathers, not mine.
" Hildegarde Grahame — she is Hildegarde
Merryweather now, but I cannot realise it yet
— has been a very dear friend of ours for
several years. We think there is no one like
her in the world ; I'll show you a picture of
her by and by. Well, a year ago she became
engaged to my uncle."
" Your uncle ! " cried the girls. " Why, I
thought she was a girl ! "
" So she is a girl, but Roger — well, he is
my uncle, but he isn't so very much older
than I am. That is — he is twenty-five, and
Hildegarde is twenty ; so you see it is just
exactly right. There isn't anybody like him,
either. He is as near an angel as a man can
come and be alive ; and he is tremendously
clever, really eminent already in his profes-
sion, and we all love him to distraction."
"Is he handsome?" asked Viola Vincent.
" I don't know ; yes, I think he is. Not a
barber-shop beauty, though. He is tall, and
very strong, broad-shouldered, with the kind-
est eyes in the world, and a smile that makes
you crinkle all over with pleasure. Well,
and so they were engaged, and now they are
married ; the wedding was on Wednesday,
and this is Friday, and here I am. Now I'll
begin at the very beginning -of the day. Of
course we woke up early, and looked out of
the window ; and it was all gray and cloudy.
I thought it was going to rain, and I was in
the depths, but Bell — you know Bell, my
sister, at college — was sure it would clear
before seven, and so it did. The sun came
WEDDING BELLS. 123
out bright and clear, and soon we saw that it
was going to be the most beautiful day that
ever was. We had been out in the fields all
day before, getting flowers, and we had them
all ready in tubs and bowls and pitchers ; so
after breakfast we could go right to work on
the decorations. We did the church first.
It is a pretty stone church, with a good
deep chancel. We filled in the back of the
chancel with great ferns — mostly evergreen
ferns, so that they would not wilt — and
palms and things ; and then we made banks
and banks of asters and goldenrod, — oh, it
was lovely ! Most of them came from the
camp-pasture. Bertha; you remember how
lovely it is in September."
Bertha nodded. " I should think I did ! ''
she said. " Most beautiful place I ever saw,
except the rest of it all."
" Well, I never saw it look more beautiful
than that day before the wedding, when Bell
and the boys and I rode out on our wheels,
and came back by moonlight, with great
bundles of purple and gold tied on our backs
and nodding over our heads. But all the
ferns and the asters and chrysanthemums
and roses came mostly from Hildegarde's own
garden at Braeside, and from Roseholme, Colo-
nel Ferrers' s place. We might have carpeted
the church entirely with asters, if we had
wanted to ; as it was, we had great garlands
of them twined over the chancel rail and
swinging among the ferns and goldenrod;
really, I never saw so many flowers at one
time in my life. When that was all done we
went to the house, Braeside, the Grahames'
house, to see if we could help there ; but Mrs.
Flower, a friend of Hildegarde's, of whom we
used to be the least little bit jealous before
we knew her, was there, and another friend.
Miss Desmond, — she was one of the brides-
maids, — and they had everything so beauti-
fully arranged that there was nothing for us
to do but stand and admire it with all our
eyes. People in New York had sent down all
kinds of splendid flowers, boxes and boxes of
them, so that the house was a perfect bower,
and smelt like the Vale of Cashmere ; but we
knew very well that Hilda would like our
flowers best. Then — well, a lot more pres-
WEDDING BELLS. 125
ents had come since the night before, so as
there was time enough before dressing, we
went in to see them. I don't suppose you
care about the presents, girls ! "
^•Oh! oh! we do ! " cried the girls, in chorus.
"We want to hear about every single one.
" My dears ! it would take me all night,
and then I couldn't remember them all. But
I'll try and tell you some of them. Let me
see! Colonel Ferrers gave her a set of sap-
phires ; the most beautiful things you ever
saw. Necklace and pendant and pin, most
wonderful dark blue stones, set in star-shape.
And Jack Ferrers and his father gave her
some wonderful Roman gold- work — I don't
know how to describe it, I never saw anything
like it — that Jack picked up in Europe.
Then there was silver, heaps and heaps of it,
from relatives in New York and I don't know
where ; some of it very handsome indeed, but
I don't care so much about silver, do you?
I remember there were ten salt-cellars, no two
alike. But the things we cared for were the
small presents that came from people we knew ;
people who loved Hildegarde, not just be-
cause she was their grandniece or something,
but because she was herself. Oli, some of
them were funny, girls ! There were two
dear old people who had come a long way to
the wedding, a Mr. and Mrs. Hartley, with
whom Hilda spent a summer when she was
about fifteen, and whom she has been fond of
ever since. I should think she would be ; the
old lady has a face like Raphael's grand-
mother — I can't think of any other way of
describing it; and Mr. Hartley is simply a
duck, the dearest funny old man you ever
saw. Well, they brought Hilda the most
beautiful toilet-set I ever saw or dreamed
of, — something wonderful, all blue dragons
and gilding. Papa said it was very rare ;
and Hilda cried when she saw it, and scolded
them dreadfully for bringing it away from its
own room ; but still she was delighted to have
it, and says she will never use any other.
Then there was young Doctor Chirk, — funny
name, isn't it? — Mrs. Flower's brother. Such
a nice, bright, jolly fellow ! Well, he was part
of that same summer, it seems, and he carved
WEDDING BELLS. 127
a beautiful frame out of wood that grew in
Hartley's Glen ; and Mrs. Flower, who paints
very well, had made a picture of the glen
itself — lovely place ! — for the frame, or I
suppose the frame was made to fit the pic-
ture, no matter which; and that filled her
" Then there were the people from Bywood.
My dear. Miss Wealthy Bond is the most
beautiful creature I have ever seen, except
two. She is just like live Dresden china,
smiling and dimpling; and the dear quaint
maid who came with her, Martha, had made
Hildegarde's whole winter provision of jellies
and jams, because ^it wasn't likely Hilde-
garde would have time herself this first sea-
son, and it wasn't a thing you could trust to
hired help in general.' Miss Bond herself
had brought china — my dear ! did you ever
see tortoise-shell crockery ? Well, it is a most
beautiful thing, and the art was lost a hun-
dred years ago, and each piece is worth I don't
know how much ; but this dear old lady had
a dozen plates, all hexagonal, too, and not a
single point broken or chipped, and two pitch-
ers, — well, I haven't the heart even to think
of those pitchers, I wanted them so, — and
they were all for Hilda, because Hilda had
brought the sunshine back into her life, she
" Girls, it was the same story everywhere.
Mrs. Grahame being so delicate, and Hilda so
busy. Bell and I were there a great deal the
few days before the wedding, and we took the
guests to walk and drive and so on. Every-
where it was the same story, the joy and
brightness and love that this one girl had
carried with her wherever ^he went. I never
shall forget it — never.
" Then — let me see — what next ? Oh ! I
had nearly forgotten the dear little boy, Benny,
Miss Bond's adopted son. He considers Hilda
his own private property, and he was furiously
jealous of Roger and everybody else. When
he first came it was quite sad, really, the child
was so unhappy, and there was no consoling
him. He wanted Hilda to sing to him and
play with him just as she did when she was
staying there at Bywood ; and naturally she
couldn't, poor dear, though it was wonderful
WEDDING BELLS. 129
how she managed to be with them all a little
every day, and to see to almost everything, so
that her mother should have no care or worry.
Well, where was I ? oh ! the little boys.
Hugh Allen, our Hugh, — I can't stop to
tell you about Hugh now, but he is the dear-
est, queerest little fellow, — Hugh watched
all this for awhile, and then he took Benny
away with him, down into the garden, and
they were gone a long time. And when they
came back Benny marched straight up to
Roger, and said, ' You are nice ! you can have
my girl,' and then marched off again, and
went and cried, poor lamb, till Hugh com-
" But I am not getting on with the presents,
am I ? We all gave her linen, because she
had to have that, and we wanted to do some-
thing ourselves ; so we, my mother and Bell
and Kitty and I, hemmed every one of the
table-cloths and napkins, and embroidered the
marks on all the towels, and had a beautiful
time over it. Mammy read to us part of the
time while we sewed, all the interesting wed-
dings that she could find in history or fiction.
and that was great fun ; then she wrote some
funny verses to go with them, and they really
were lovely patterns, so it was a nice present,
though strictly necessary, you see. Oh, I
haven't told you about the diamonds ! Helena
Desmond was so funny about them ! ' Hilda,'
she said, ' it was clear from the beginning that
I must be offered up on the altar of diamonds.
I detest diamonds. They are absolutely un-
interesting ; they are almost vulgar. Never
mind, you have to have some, and nobody
else will be stupid and commonplace enough
to give them to you. I had hopes of your
Aunt Emily, but she has expended herself in
lace, and was so happy over it that I hadn't
the heart to whisper " diamonds ! " in her ear,
as I had meant to do. Here they are, my
child ; the customary horrors ! '
" Well, they were very beautiful, though I
confess I should have liked pearls better for
Hilda. A diamond crescent and star, really
splendid. She is very rich, you know."
" Is that the great beauty ? " asked a girl.
" Yes, she is superb, certainly. Next to
Hilda, perhaps — but I'll come to that pres-
WEDDING BELLS. 131
ently. Well, now perhaps I have told you
half the things, or rather more than half ; but
they are the things I cared most about, you
see. I can't go into a list of forks and spoons.
So now I come to the wedding itself."
The girls drew a long breath and leaned
forward ; presents were very well, but wed-
dings were better.
"It was at noon, of course. There were
only two bridesmaids, Helena Desmond and
I. Hilda said she wanted only her nearest
and dearest, so she would not ask her cousins,
though I fancy they had hoped to be asked.
She wanted Bell, but Bell said it was posi-
tively necessary that she should play the organ,
and so it was. We wore perfectly plain white
muslin gowns, but, oh, they were so pretty !
with soft pale green sashes, and little wreaths
of ivy in our hair. Hildegarde wanted every-
thing as simple as possible, so we didn't go
into hats, or any of that kind of nonsense.
Jerry — my brother Gerald — was best man,
and the ushers were Phil and Willy, my other
brothers, and Jack Ferrers and Doctor Chirk
and Hugh Allen. Well, so the hour came.
" Helena and I were ready and waiting at
Braeside when Hilda came down-stairs. Girls,
you never saw anything so lovely in your
lives as she was. Her dress was very simple,
too, white embroidered muslin, exquisitely
fine. Colonel Ferrers brought it from India,
years and years ago, for a lovely young girl
who died while he was on his way home. It
had been made in the house, and it looked
just like her, as her dresses always do. She
wore a little gold pin that Roger made for her
himself, — mined the gold and all, — no other
ornament, and a wreath of white roses, roses
that the Roseholme gardener had been nurs-
ing all summer to make them blossom just at
the right time. That was his present ; every-
body wanted to do something, you see."
" What does she look like ? '* asked a girl.
" Well, you have to see her to know what
she really looks like, for half of it is the ex-
pression and the look in her eyes. Gray eyes,
so clear and true, — you know she couldn't
say or do anything unkind or false to save
her life, — and a colour just like a wild rose,
and a nose, — well, it's just her own nose.
WEDDING BELLS. 133
tilted up a little, but perfectly delightful ; and
when she smiles, you think she has the most
beautiful mouth in the world, though I don't
suppose she really has. Here, this gives you
a little idea of her ; just a very little, for it
doesn't begin to think of doing her justice."
The girls clustered eagerly to see the pho-
tograph, which was passed on from hand to
hand. It was a lovely face, indeed, at which
they looked ; yet, as Gertrude said, the actual
beauty was the least part of its charm. Truth
and kindness shone from it ; not the lightest
and most foolish girl there but felt grave for
a moment, meeting that steady look of cheer
" And yet she looks awfully jolly, too ! "
said one, breaking the silence, and voicing
the thought of all.
" My dear, she is more fun — "
"Than a goat?" asked a new voice; and
Grace Wolfe slipped in quietly at the window,
and, nodding to the company, took her seat
on the floor.
" I have heard all ! " she said. " Go on,
Snowy ! I see now where you got your vir-
tues ; this young woman has much to answer
Gertrude looked at her kindly, but said
nothing ; in a moment the story went on.
"We walked over to the church — it is
only a few steps — just as we were, without
any formal arrangement. Hilda held her
mother's hand fast all the time; they were
both very quiet. The dear old black cook
walked with them, crying all the way. Hugh
had Hilda's other hand. I — I can't tell about
Gertrude's voice faltered for a moment;
then she went on more steadily.
" Colonel Ferrers was waiting at the church
door, with his brother, Mr. Raymond Ferrers.
All the ushers were there, too, and we could
see that the church was full. And, oh ! just
a little way from the door was a band of little
girls, Hilda's sewing-class, and they all had
baskets of flowers, and scattered them in front
of her as she walked. I forgot to put that in
where it belonged, but it was very pretty, and
if you had seen the way they looked at her !
"Well, then it all seemed to happen in
WEDDING BELLS. 135
a moment. Mr. Raymond Ferrers took Mrs.
Grahame up the aisle; and then the organ
broke out with the wedding march. I have
heard my sister Bell play pretty well, but
never as she did then. It seemed to fill the
whole world, and yet it was not too loud,
either. Then the ushers went up, and then
Helena and I, and then came our dear bride
on Colonel Ferrers' arm. Roger was waiting
at the altar steps with Gerald. He came
forward to meet her, and took both her
hands, — oh, with such a beautiful look in
his face ! and then drew her arm through his,
so proud and quiet and happy, and then the
service went on. They both spoke so clearly,
everybody could hear them, and the ring was
ready, and there was not a mistake anjrwhere ;
only both Jerry and the colonel were on the
point of breaking down, both of them, and
every time the colonel blew his nose I could
see Jerry start and wince. And so they were
married, and the music broke out again, and
Roger put back the veil and kissed his wife ;
and — and then they came back down the
aisle, and — and — and that is all!"
Gertrude had struggled hard for composure.
She had nearly outgrown the childish prone-
ness to tears, which in early days had earned
her the home sobriquet of "Chelsea Water-
works;" but this recital touched her too
nearly, and she had overcalculated her power
of self-restraint. Her voice broke altogether,
and she could only nod and smile through
her tears on Bertha, who was regarding her
" I ought not to have made you, Toots ! "
said Bertha. " I did want them to hear it,
it has been so beautiful. Don't cry, dear ! "
But Grace Wolfe came and laid her hand on
Gertrude's shoulder, and spoke in a tone one
hardly ever heard in that voice.
" Don't stop her ! " she said, gravely. "Let
her cry ! It's good for her — and for all of
us ! Snowy, your friend is a blessed creature,
and you are another."
No one spoke for a few moments. Peggy
was crying quietly in her corner, and feeling
that she had been at the wedding herself, and
wondering what she should possibly do if
Margaret should ever get married.
WEDDING BELLS. 137
But now the Snowy Owl wiped away her
tears in good earnest, and spoke in her own
"Come, this will never do. Girls, we
have extra time to-night. Miss Russell was
so kind when I told her what I wanted to
do; but even that time will be up if we
don't mind. Volunteers to toast marshmal-
lows ! "
Instantly there was a rush and a cry. A
dozen hands were stretched out. Hat-pins
appeared, as if by magic, brandished on every
side. In another moment a dozen marshmal-
lows were frizzling over the gas-jets, while
the student lamp did duty for several more.
As soon as one was done, it was popped, hiss-
ing hot, into an open mouth, and the hat-pin,
charged with another freight, returned to the
charge. Cries of mingled joy and anguish
rose on every side.
" Oh, I am burnt entirely ! The skin is all
off my lips."
" Here, for me one ! "
^^ No, she has had two already ! Fluffy, my
turn next ! "
It was a merry Babel. The fun rose higher
and higher. Peggy dried her eyes, and looked
on wondering. How could they hear each
other ? They were all talking at once, each
one faster than the other.
"My dear! Perfly fine, wasn't it? Oh,
I do love to hear a tell — "
" When my cousin was married, she had
eight bridesmaids, and they wore just mob
caps, not another thing — "
" Orange-blossoms are too sweet for any-
thing, but they make some people — " '
"Simply pea-green, my dear, with fright,
and she had blue woollen socks on over her
white slippers — ' something blue,' you know,
— and forgot to take them off — "
"Her head, and you never saw anything
like it in your life. It measured three yards
around, if it did — "
"A sunburst, you know, diamonds and
pearls. I adore diamonds, for my part.
Why, to be married without diamonds would
" Simply fierce ! I should die, I know I
should, before I got half-way up the aisle.
WEDDING BELLS. 139
But to see one, and the music and flowers
and all, is — "
" Dandy ! perf 'ly dandy ! I wouldn't miss
it for all the — "
^' Flounces, my dear, up to the waist, as
true as I sit here ! and she said ^ No ! ' She
said : ' Before I'll be flounced to the waist,
I'll — '"
" Marry a tin peddler ! said there was
nothing in the world she'd like better, be-
cause then she could — "
" Sit still the whole morning without mov-
ing a muscle, for fear of breaking her — "
^^ Heart, with forty pearls and sixty dia-
monds. Fact, I assure you, my dear ! I had
it from — "
" A perfect brute, not fit for any one to — "
Here, Destiny knocked on the door; the
round, rosy face of Miss Carey, the house-
keeper, looked in.
"Girls, you really must go to bed. Miss
Russell sent me to say so. Do you know
what time it is ? "
Grace Wolfe slipped like a shadow out of
the window and was gone unseen ; the assem-
bly broke up with laughter and cheers for
the Snowy and the Fluffy, and snatches of
talk bubbling all the way along the corridor.
When Peggy reached her room, she found the
Scapegoat already there, sitting on the floor
and chanting solemnly :
" I have nailed my Puggy's slippers
Down upon her closet floor.
She may pray with both her flippers,
But she'll never use them more I "
The time went quickly enough at Miss
Russell's. Once the routine established, les-
son followed lesson and day followed day
with amazing rapidity. Before Peggy could
realise that she was fairly settled, a month
had passed. It was not so bad now ; in fact,
a good deal of it was very pleasant, she was
obliged to admit. Her geometry was a con-
stantly progressing joy ; so was her anatomy,
and she had the happy consciousness that she
was doing well in both studies. This enabled
her to bear up against the bitterness of rhet-
oric and of Miss Pugsley. As for the history,
once equally dreaded, its terrors had nearly
vanished. Miss Cortland t had a way of mak-
ing things so clear that one could not help
remembering them once they were explained.
Furthermore, she managed to invest the lay-
figures of dead and gone kings and conquerors
with life and motion. Alexander the Great
was no longer a tiresome person in a book,
who cried in an absurd way when there was
nothing left to conquer. That had always
exasperated Peggy, " because if he had had
any sense, he would have gone on, and found
out for himself what a lot more there was,
that his old books and seers and things had
never found out." But now, she foujid
Alexander in the first place a boy who
knew about tiorses, which in itself was a
great thing, and in the second place a man
who knew about a great many other things,
and who acted on his knowledge in a variety
of swift and surprising ways. As with this
hero, so with others, till Peggy came to look
forward, actually, to the history hour; which
shows what a teacher can do when she under-
stands her girls, and knows enough to call
Plutarch and his peers (if any !) to aid her in
But when all was said and done, Peggy
was not cut out for a student ; and her hap-
piest hours were not those of even the pleas-
BY MOONLIGHT. 143
antest class-room. Basket-ball claimed her
for its own, and she proved an apt and ready
learner in this branch of study. Less swift
than Grace Wolfe, who seemed a thing com-
pact of steel and gossamer, she was far
stronger to meet an attack, and many a
rush came and passed, and left the stalwart
freshman standing steady and undaunted in
The hours of sport brought the two girls
nearer and nearer together ; and Peggy found
herself yielding more and more — often against
her own judgment — to the fascination of the
lawless girl, who on her part seemed curiously
drawn to the simple, downright, law-abiding
It was about this time that Peggy found
out why her room had been called Broadway.
The nights were still fine and warm, though
it was now October. Apples were ripe in the
neighbouring orchards ; and though it was
perfectly practicable and allowable to buy all
the apples one wanted in the daytime, that
method did not approve itself to the wilder
spirits at Miss Russell's school.
To slide down the fire-escape, slip across
the lawn, keeping well under the trees by the
edge, and so out into the road and down to
the nearest orchard, only a few rods off, — this
was the true way to get apples, and a very
thrilling way it. was. Peggy had been a good
deal startled when the first merry party, with
noiseless steps and stifled giggles, came steal-
ing into her room, and, nodding to her, made
their way out of the window and down the
fire-escape. It never occurred to her to make
any effort to stop them; they were sopho-
mores, and she only a freshman. She sup-
posed it was against the rules, but of course
they would not really do any harm ; and oh,
what a good time they would have !
She looked after them with a sigh, and
wished them luck in her heart, a successful
raid, and a safe return. Indeed, it was not
long before they were back, rosy and breath-
less, with baskets and pockets stuffed with
apples. The Fresh Freshman, as Peggy was
called, did not fail to receive her share ; and
she ate it with a little thrill of vicarious
guilt which was certainly not unpleasant.
BY MOONLIGHT. 145
The two Owls never came with these par-
ties ; and somehow Peggy did not mention
the matter to them, though she saw them
constantly, and loved them always more and
more. Sometimes the expeditions were headed
by Grace Wolfe, in her wildest mood ; some-
times it was Viola Vincent, who came tripping
in with a band of her chosen intimates. Viola
had several times asked Peggy to be of the
party, but Peggy had not gone, — she could
hardly have said why. Why was it that
Grace had never asked her ? If she had,
The night came when Grace did ask her.
Peggy had been studying as usual, and the
signal for " lights out " came while she was
still at her task. Out went the light, for
Peggy was, as we have said, a law-abiding citi-
zen. She was groping about, not yet used to
the half-light of the growing moon, when the
door opened, and Grace glided in with her
usual noiseless tread. She laid her hand over
Peggy's mouth without a word, and stood
motionless, seeming to listen. Then she said
aloud and deliberately :
" Yes, I must go this minute. I had no
idea it was so late. Suppose Miss Pugsley
should catch us ! You know she goes around
and listens at the doors every now and then,
and looks through the keyholes to see what
is going on."
" Oh, Grace ! " said Peggy.
" Fact, I assure you. I sometimes wonder
what Miss Russell would say if she knew it.
That isn't her own style, you see. The fun
of it is, the other never realises that the
wheeze gives her away every time."
Grace Wolfe had the ears of a fox ; but, in
the pause that followed, even Peggy heard, or
fancied she heard, a breathing outside the
door. It was only for an instant, if, in-
deed, it had been at all ; yet in another mo-
ment a board creaked somewhere along the
corridor, and again in a moment came the
slight but unmistakable sound of a closing
Grace laughed, and pirouetted merrily on
one foot, looking in the moonlight like a
" Oh, Grace ! " repeated Peggy, aghast.
BY MOONLIGHT. 147
" Was she — could she have been there, do
you think ? "
"She could very easily have been there.
Innocent/' replied the Scapegoat. " Indeed,
she was. I saw the glitter of her eye, and a
sweet thing it was.''
" Oh, but how could you ? how dared you ?
Surely, you will get into dreadful trouble,
" Not I ! " said Grace. " She can't report
me, you observe, without saying that she was
listening at the door. And even if she did,
Miss Russell would ask her what I said, and
she would be sad and sorry to relate that.
No ! this time I am safe enough, my Prairie
Flower. But come, now that I am here, shall
we be merry ?
" The owl is abroad, the bat, and the toad,
And so is the catamountain.
" Shall the Goat be lacking on such a night
as this, or the Wolf either ? One has one's
responsibilities toward one's names. Come,
Innocent, we'll go abroad and celebrate my
victory over my Puggy ! "
Grace's tone was as quiet as ever, but she
was more excited than Peggy had ever seen
her. Her eyes shone ; her hair, which was
very beautiful, was unbraided for some reason
— one never knew what whim would seize
the whimsical one — and hung like a mantle
about her shoulders. Standing thus, with her
hand on the window, she looked, as I have
said, like a creature from another world.
" Come ! " she repeated ; and Peggy had
never heard sweeter music than her voice.
"Do you — do you think I ought to?"
stammered the freshman, moving toward the
" One owes it to the catamountain ! " cried
Grace. " As for the owls, — well, they will
be abroad ! " she added, with a low laugh.
" They would be far enough abroad if they
knew. Come, Innocent ! "
She glided out of the window, and Peggy
followed, her heart beating to suffocation, her
cheeks glowing with excitement. To be chosen
by the Lone Wolf (for this was another of the
•wild girl's nicknames, the third being Ishmael)
as the companion of one of her solitary ram-
BY MOONLIGHT. 149
bles was perhaps the most thrilling thing that
had ever come into Peggy's simple life. Prob-
ably she would have had courage to resist an
invitation from any of the frolicsome parties
that came and went through her room ; she
had no power to resist this. Silently she fol-
lowed the Scapegoat down the iron ladder of
the fire-escape, across the lawn, out into the
Grace turned to her with one of her sudden
movements, and took both her hands.
" The world's before us, where to choose ! "
she cried. "What shall it be, Innocent?
Shall we climb up into the tower and ring
the fire-bell ? or go for apples ? This is your
first expedition, you shall choose."
" Oh, no, Grace ; please ! I don't know.
I cannot. I'll go wherever you go, that's
all ! "
The Scapegoat meditated. "On the whole,"
she announced, " soda seems to be the thing.
We'll go and have some soda, Innocent."
" Go down-town ? " gasped Peggy.
"Yes; why not? Only to Mrs. Button's.
You know she is the college grandmother;
why shouldn't she be ours? Many's the
time Granny Button has sheltered me from
the wrath to come. Besides, I have had no
marshmallows for a week. A vow, a vow!
I have a vow in heaven to have marsh-
mallows once a week, merely for the honour
of the school."
Granny Button, as she was called, kept
a neat little shop at the corner of the High
Street. Here she dispensed soda-water, candy,
and cakes to the students of school and col-
lege. She was a little old woman, with a face
like a dry but still sound winter apple, and
she shook her head reprovingly as the two
"Now, Miss Wolfe!" she said. "You
hadn't ought to come here at this time,
now you hadn't, my dear. What do you
want? I declare, I've most of a mind not
to give it to you, for a wild slip as you are.
What would Miss Russell say if she should
come in this blessed minute, Miss Grace?"
" Ah, but she won't, granny ! " said Grace,
coolly. " She's gone to a lecture, you see, so
it is all right, truly it is.
BY MOONLIGHT. 151
" I saw her go ; one horse was blind,
The tails of both hung down behind,
Their shoes were on their feet.
" I got SO exhausted studying, I feared the
vital spark might become extinguished, might
pop out, granny, if I didn't have some soda.
Two pineapple creams, please, and be quick
about it. I'll be getting the marshmallows
while you pour it."
The old woman filled the long glasses,
shaking her head all the time, and mutter-
ing about naughty girls and dark closets.
Peggy drank the soda, but it did not taste
very good, and her hand trembled as she held
the glass. Her eyes were fixed on the door,
and every moment she expected to see it open,
and Miss Russell or one of the teachers enter.
But no one came. Grace found the" marsh-
mallows, and in high spirits brought them to
Mrs. Button to count and tie up for her.
" Granny, you look lovely to-night ! " she
said. " Don't try to look cross. Granny But-
ton, for you don't know how. Smile on me,
lovely one, for we must kiss and part."
"Indeed, then, we'd, better. Miss Grace,"
cried the good woman ; " and don't let me see
you here again this long while, save and ex-
cept at proper hours. I know well enough
I ought to tell that good lady of all the times
you've been here out of hours. Yes, dear, I
know it weir enough^ and sometimes it makes
me uneasy in my bed. But you have the
beguiling of the serpent himself, Grace Wolfe,
and you know it, and that's the worst."
" Isn't it ? " said Grace, pensively ; and her
large eyes were full of tender gravity, as she
fixed them on the old woman.
"I'll add serpent to my menagerie, and
thank you, granny ! Nobody ever called you
serpent, did they, dear ? Wait till you come
to my time in life, and you'll know what it is
" Well, Innocent, shall we come ? After
all, it is hard to stay where one isn't wanted,
and the only trouble with Granny Button is
that she has no heart."
" Yes, go, dear ! " said the old woman to
Peggy, eagerly. " Go right along home now,
and don't let Miss Grace bring ye out again,
as she's a naughty girl, and so I always tell
BY MOONLIGHT. 153
her, though I never can say no to her, and
that's the truth. But you are different, dear,
and a freshman, I'll be bound ; and don't let
me see ye here again without leave or license,
let alone the hour as is getting on for ' lights
" Fare thee well, my first and fairest ! " said
Grace, kissing her hand at the door. "Till
our next meeting ! "
It was only a few steps back from the turn
into the High Street. Peggy's pulse began to
beat more naturally ; in a moment, now, they
would be back, safe back, and she would
never do it again, no matter what Grace
thought of her. Fun was fun, but it was
not worth this; and what would Margaret
Coming up from the High Street, they
skirted a field that lay like waving silver
in the moonlight. Nothing would do but
that Grace must have a run through this
field; she declared that it was her favourite
spot in the world.
"After all, soda and marshmallows are
carnal ! " she insisted. " Our bodies are fed,
Innocent, our souls starve for want of poetry.
There is poetry in all that silver waving. I
must ! I must prance, or I shall not rest in
my bed. Come along ! "
And she went flitting about through the
long grass, hither and thither like a will-o'-
the-wisp, her long hair floating around her,
her arms waving in gestures sometimes fan-
tastic, but always graceful. Peggy could think
of nothing but her cousin Rita, as she used to
dance in the old days at Fernley. What
a pair she and Grace would make ! What a
mercy they had never come together. More-
over, her heart, the heart of a farmer's
daughter, smote her at the treading down of
the grass. She stood at the edge of the field,
now and then calling to her companion and
urging her to come home, but for the most
part simply watching her in mingled terror
At length the wild spirit was satisfied, and
Grace came flying back, radiant and breath-
" That was glorious ! " she said. " Poor
little Innocent, you haven't much soul, have
BY MOONLIGHT. 155
you? Still, I love you. Come, we will g©
back to the shades." .
They neared the gate ; as they did so, they
heard voices and the sound of approaching
footsteps. Grace paused for a moment ; then
held up her hand with a warning gesture.
Peggy felt her heart turn cold ; it was com-
ing ! one of the voices was that of Miss Rus-
sell. It was impossible for them to escape
being seen. The broad stretch of the lawn
lay between them and safety, and the relent-
less moonlight lay full upon the hedge which
had lain in shadow when they came out.
Peggy braced herself to meet the shock ; but
Grace laid a hand on her arm, and then made
a gesture. A great tree stood just by the
gate of Pentland School; a chestnut-tree,
with low-jutting, wide-spreading branches.
With the swift movement of some woodland
creature, Grace Wolfe swung herself up to
the lowest branch, and motioned Peggy to
follow ; Peggy was a good climber, too ; more
slowly, but with equal agility, she gained the
branch; then softly, slowly, both girls crept
along, inward and upward, till a thick
screen of leaves hid them completely from
Two ladies came around the turn, and
paused a moment at the gate, — Miss Russell
and Miss Cortlandt. They stood directly
under the chestnut-tree; Peggy could have
dropped a nut down exactly on the crown of
Miss Russell's bonnet; she never knew how
near Grace came to doing so, nor how hard it
was to refrain for her, Peggy's, sake.
" I hope not ! " said Miss Russell. " I do
most earnestly hope not."
"I am afraid there is little doubt of
it ! " replied Miss Cortlandt. " Miss Pugsley
seemed quite positive; I know she means to
bring it up at Faculty Meeting to-morrow
Miss Russell sighed. " Then it will not be
done in the wisest manner ! " she said. " I
can say this to you, Emily, for you under-
stand her as well as I do. I had hoped," she
continued, " that the whole business would be
over when Wilhelmina Lightwood — well, I
suppose she will always be ' Billy,' even to
me — when Billy went away. I put Peggy
BY MOONLIGHT. 157
Montfort there, because she seemed such an
honest, steady, sensible kind of girl. I
thought I could trust Peggy Montfort."
" I think you can ! " said Miss Cortlandt.
" I don't believe Peggy has had any share in
the flittings. But I do think it might per-
haps have been better to tell her all about it,
and put her on her guard. Being a new girl,
she might not feel at liberty to stop the older
ones when they came ; and she could not tell
of it. You see. Miss Russell, it is such a
little time since I was a ' girl ' myself, that I
haven't got away from their point of view yet."
" I hope you never will, my dear ! " said
Miss Russell, warmly. " It is when I get too
far away from that point of view myself that
I make mistakes. Yes, I ought to have put
the child on her guard ; I'll do so to-morrow."
She looked over toward the school, and
" Broad is the way that leadeth to destruc-
tion ! " she said. " It was Grace who gave it
the name, of course. Poor Grace ! "
" Poor Grace ! " echoed Miss Cortlandt ; and
then the two passed on.
They were two very silent girls who
crossed the lawn five minutes later. Grace
Wolfe held her head high, and walked with
her usual airy grace ; her face was grave, but
perhaps no graver than usual. Still, she did
not speak; as for Peggy, she was too bowed
down with shame and wretchedness to think
even of her companion. She had been
trusted; and she had betrayed the trust.
There seemed nothing in the whole world
They parted outside Peggy's window.
Grace was going up a story higher on the
fire-escape, Peggy did not think nor ask
No word was spoken ; only, Grace laid her
hand on Peggy's shoulder and looked in her
face for a moment. Peggy could not speak,
could only shake her head. A single sob
broke from her lips; then she hurried in,
and closed the window behind her.
Then Grace Wolfe did a singular thing.
Standing on the iron step, she took from her
pocket the packet of marshmallows, and
deliberately scattered them over the lawn,
BY MOONLIGHT. 159
throwing each one as far as her arm could
" For the frogs ! " she explained, aloud.
^^With the compliments of the Goat, the
Wolf, and the Serpent, — to which is now
added the Beast which Perishes ! "
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM.
^' Have you proof of this, Miss Pugsley ? "
" I am perfectly sure of it, Miss Russell ! "
" Yes ; I am sure you would be, before you
spoke of it; but have you the proof? Of
course, before taking any such serious step as
you propose, I should, in justice to all, be
obliged to ask for positive proof."
" Proof ! " cried Miss Pugsley, in some ex-
citement. " Proof enough ! Look at my bon-
net. Miss Russell. Oblige me by smelling of
it. I can never wear it again, never ! I tell
you, brandy has been poured over it. Here
are the slippers ! " She produced a pair of
slippers which were certainly in a sad condi-
tion . " They were nailed — nailed with ten-
penny nails, to the floor of my closet; they
are totally ruined. Look — I ask you all,
ladies, to look at my hand-glass ! " She held
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 161
up the glass ; and at the sight Emily Cort-
landt had one of those violent fits of coughing
that often troubled her ; this one was so bad
that she was obliged to leave the room for a
moment. The worst of it was that one or
two of the other teachers seemed to have
caught the infection, for there was a regular
outbreak of coughing and choking, which only
a severe glance from Miss Russell checked.
Somebody had painted a face on the little
mirror. It covered the whole surface ; the
face of a monkey, with grinning mouth, and
twinkling, malicious eyes; it had an un-
doubted resemblance to Miss Pugsley. As
she held it up with a tragic gesture, the effect
was so absurd that even Miss Russell might
have wished that she could — cough !
'^It lay on my dressing-table, face down-
ward," Miss Pugsley went on. "I had just
done my hair for tea, — I am scrupulous in
such matters, — and took up the glass to see
that my pug was straight behind. I looked —
and saw this. Ladies, I could have fainted on
the floor. My nerves being what they are, it
is a marvel that I did not."
I am very, very sorry, Miss Pugsley," said
Miss Russell, gravely. " If I knew who had
done this — "
" But I tell you I do know, Miss Russell ! *'
cried Miss Pugsley, vindictively. " I tell you
that there is only one girl in the school who
is capable of all this, and that girl is Grace
Wolfe ! "
There was a moment's silence.
"Have you found Grace in your room at
any time. Miss Pugsley?" demanded Miss
No, Miss Pugsley had not, but that made
no difference. Grace had done the things,
there was no shadow of a doubt of it.
" Have you been careful to lock your door
when you left the room ? "
"Miss Russell, you know that locks and
bolts make no possible difference to Grace
Wolfe. The girl is cut out for a male-
factor. I prophesy that she will be in
State's prison before she has been out of
school a year."
"I must request you not to speak in this
way of any of my yoimg ladies," said the
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 163
Principal, sternly, " You have been the vic-
tim of some very malicious practical jokes,
Miss Pugsley. I shall look into the matter
thoroughly, and shall do my best to discover
the offender, and shall punish her — or them
— as I think best." She laid a slight empha-
sis on the last words.
" Then you refuse to expel Grace Wolfe ? "
said Miss Pugsley, quivering with anger.
" On such evidence as you have brought
forward to-night ? certainly," said Miss Rus-
sell, with some severity. " I have no proof
whatever that Miss Wolfe played any of these
pranks, though I admit it is probable that she
may have done so. You found the bandbox
outside your door, where Bridget admits she
left it several days before. You left your
door unlocked on a rainy half-holiday, when
sixty or more girls were constantly passing
and repassing; there are half a dozen girls,
I am sorry to say, who might have been
tempted by the open door to play some prank
of the kind which seems so clever to children,
and so silly to older people."
Why did Miss Russell look toward the win-
dow as she spoke ? But now she was looking
at Miss Pugsley again.
" You and Grace are not friends, I know,
Miss Pugsley/' she went on. "I am sorry for
it, for I think all the rest of us feel how much
that is fine and noble might — may still be
brought out of that untamed spirit. She has
never known a mother, remember. The name
of the Scapegoat, which she has given herself,
may, I sometimes think, reflect blame on the
rest of us as well as on her. It is true that,
whatever mischief is afoot, it is sure to be
laid at Grace's door. This is mainly her own
fault, of course — "
" I should think so ! " snorted Miss Pugsley.
" But not entirely," the Principal went on.
"There are other mischievous girls in the
school. I should like to know how Grace
has been doing this month in her various
classes," she added, turning to the other
On this point the testimony was unanimous.
Grace Wolfe led many of the classes ; she was
well up in all, and had passed her examina-
tions in a way that did credit both to her in-
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 165
telligence and her industry. Thus testified
every teacher, except the small brown mouse
who taught drawing in Pentland School.
This mouse, Miss Mink by name, had crept
away silently, and left the room, after one
glance at the hand-glass ; she knew that but
one hand in the school could have drawn that
monkey, and though her heart swelled with
pride, she feared for her darling pupil.
There was a pause after the teachers had
given their testimony; then Miss Pugsley
returned to the attack.
" I certainly hope justice will be done, Miss
Russell," she said, with a smile of sweetened
vinegar. " It would be a great pity, wouldn't
it, if the school got the reputation — he ! he !
— of injustice and favouritism ? "
" It would," said the Principal, gravely.
"But there is another matter that I feel
bound to speak of before we separate," Miss
Pugsley went on. " Are you aware that room
No. 18, in corridor A, the room formerly oc-
cupied by Miss Lightwood, is again being used
as a place of exit for parties of students going
on lawless expeditions ? "
The Principal looked at her steadily.
" I fear that is true/' said one of the other
teachers. " I had meant to speak to you
before about it, Miss Russell, but waited till
"Of course it makes no possible difference
to me ! " cried Miss Pugsley. " It is not my
corridor, and I have no authority there ; but
as long as one is in the school, of course one
must consider the honour of it, you know, and
I am glad some one else is here to bear me
out in this complaint."
The Principal still looked at Miss Pugsley ;
teachers who had been long in the school were
glad that she was not looking at them in that
"I have heard of this matter before," Miss
Russell said, at last. " I am going to devote
my own time to investigating it, and think I
shall need no help ; though I thank you," it
was to Miss Ivors that she spoke, " for bring-
ing it to my notice, as it was right for you to
do. I think I need not detain you longer,
When the teachers were gone. Miss Russell
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 167
stepped to the window and said, softly,
" Grace ! "
There was no reply. An owl hooted in the
distance ; a bird chirped somewhere near by.
That was all.
" Grace ! " said the Principal again. " If
you are there, I wish you would come in and
let me speak to you."
Still no reply. After waiting a moment,
the Principal closed the window with a sigh.
On leaving the room she paused a moment to
look at the photograph of a lovely young
woman, in the dress of twenty years ago,
which stood on her desk.
"Dear Edith!" said Miss Russell. "My
first pupil ! Ill keep your girl for you, Edith,
if I can ! "
Was Grace Wolfe outside the window when
the Principal called her ? Who can tell ? It
is certain that ten minutes after she was at
the supper in Bedlam.
The tenant of Bedlam, Miss Cornelia Hatch
(familiarly known as Colney Hatch, in re-
membrance of the famous English Insane
Asylum), was not actually mad, though many
of the scholars thought her so. She was a
special student of natural history, botany, and
zoology; she was absent-minded and forgetful
to the last degree. When she came into class,
she often had to be brought there, some good-
natured classmate dragging her away by main
force from her private experiments. If she
did remember to come of her own accord, she
was apt to have a half-completed articulation
hanging around her neck, or a dried frog skin
stuck behind her ear for safe-keeping. Her
hair was generally untidy, owing to this habit
of sticking things in it while she worked ; you
never could tell what it would be, vertebraB,
or seaweed, or pine-cones, but you could
safely reckon on finding something extra-
neous in Colney's ruffled black hair. As for
her clothes, she was usually enveloped in a
huge brown gingham apron, with many pock-
ets, which held snakes, or eggs, or roots, or
anything else that would not go comfortably
in her hair. When the apron became too
dirty (she had had two at the beginning of
the term, but one had been destroyed in an
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 169
explosion), Miss Carey took it away and
washed it, while Colney went around looking
scared and miserable in a queer flannel gown
of a pinkish shade. Report said it had once
been brown, but that the colour had been
changed by the fumes of something or other,
no one knew what. Sometimes she had but-
tons on frock and apron, more often not.
Periodically, Miss Carey or the Owls de-
scended upon her, and sewed on her buttons
and mended her up generally; and she was
very grateful, and said how nice it was to
have buttons. But she soon pulled them off
again, because she never had time to do any-
thing but tear her clothes off when she went
to bed, and drag them on again when she got
up. When a button flew off, she pinned the
place over, if a pin was in sight ; if not, she
went without; it made no difference to her,
and she was not conscious of it in five minutes.
Miss Russell, and most of the teachers, were
very tender with Colney. She was poor, and
meant to work her way through college ; even
now she paid part of her schooling by stuffing
birds and setting up skeletons for one of the
college professors. If she did not kill herself
or somebody else before she graduated, Miss
Russell looked forward to a distinguished
career for the tenant of Bedlam ; so, as I have
said, she was tender and patient with her;
and good Miss Carey mended her when she
could, and saw that she remembered to eat
her dinner, and Miss Boyle and Miss Mink
rejoiced over her, and Miss Cortlandt led her
gently through English literature, giving her
Walton and Bacon and all the scientific men
of letters that she could find. Only one teacher
failed to do her best to smooth poor Colney's
path through school ; that was Miss Pugsley.
Rhetoric was simply an empty noise to the
girl. She never by any chance knew a les-
son, and Miss Pugsley lashed her with so cruel
a tongue that Peggy used to ache and smart
for her as well as for herself, and would get
hold of Colney's hand and hold it and squeeze
it, growing red the while with pity and anger.
But Colney never noticed it half as much as
Peggy did ; she used to look at the angry
teacher for a few minutes in an abstracted
kind of way, and then retire within herself
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 171
and make imaginary experiments. This was
what happened on the dreadful day when
Miss Pugsley said :
" The subject of this sentence is /. How
do we go to work to form the predicate, Miss
Hatch ? "
Cornelia started, but replied, instantly :
" By mixing one part hydrogen with three
parts — "
" Indeed ! " said Miss Pugsley, with ominous
calm. " And what happens next, pray ? "
" It turns green, and explodes with a loud
And this was exactly what did happen.
Poor Colney !
Peggy Montfort did not form one of the
party in Bedlam that night. The room lay
at the extreme end of the corridor, round a
corner, so that it was in a manner shut off
from the rest of the wing. It was an extraor-
dinary place. Stretched on the walls, dried
or drying, were /specimens of every possible
variety, — bats, frogs, snake skins, bird skins.
Along the mantelpiece were jars and bottles,
all containing other specimens preserved in
spirits. In one corner stood part of a human
skeleton. It stood on one leg, with a jaunty
air, having indeed but one leg to stand on ;
both arms were wanting, but the skull, which
was a very fine one, made up for much. On
account of this fragmentary skeleton, few of
the younger girls ever dared to enter Bedlam,
and some of them would run past the door
with face averted, and beating heart, fearing
lest the door should be open and they should
catch a glimpse of the gruesome thing. But
this object was the pride of Colney's heart.
She could not, of course, afford to buy a whole
skeleton, so she was collecting one, bit by bit ;
even Peggy had been quite uncomfortable one
day, when Colney had told her, hanging over
each bone with delight, where and how she
had come by each one. It was always hon-
estly, one could be sure of that.
Everywhere in the room, underfoot and
overhead, were setting-boards and pill-boxes,
blowpipes and crucibles. One could not move
without upsetting something ; and yet it was
here that the Gang came to have its annual
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 173
Colney Hatch was dissecting a mouse.
She was perfectly happy, and oblivious of
the world, when the door opened, and in
came fluttering the wild spirits of the junior
and sophomore classes. Last year the sopho-
mores had been freshmen, and must not know
anything about the Gang, save in wondering
envious whispers and surmises. Next year
the juniors would be seniors, and they too
must forget that such a thing as the Gang
had been, and think only of dramatics, exam-
inations, and graduation. Such had been the
unwritten law at Miss Russell's, since time was.
Here were Vanity and Vexation of Spirit,
one smiling and dimpling, the other with her
usual air of blas6 superiority. Here was
Blanche Haight, the leader among the soph-
omores ; here were six or eight girls, in fact,
chosen from the two classes for the same
characteristics, lawlessness and love of fun;
last but not least, here was Grace Wolfe, the
acknowledged leader and queen of the Gang,
when she deigned to be so.
Grace was in her wildest mood to-night.
She danced solemnly around poor Colney,
who looked up in dismay from her mouse as
the silent crowd came pouring in, and assured
her that her last hour was come.
" We are the Secret Tribunal ! " she cried.
"We have come to make a pile of all your
rubbish, Colney, and burn it, with you on
top, like the Phoenix. I am sure you would
come up out of the ashes, if we left the mouse
out for you to finish."
" Oh, do be careful, please, Goat ! " cried
Colney Hatch. "Don't sit down on that
frog, he isn't dry ! Dear me ! do you — do
want anything, girls ? "
" We want your room, my love ; and your
company ! " replied Grace. " Yet we are merci-
ful. Here ! "
She twirled Cornelia's chair around, and set
her with her face to the wall; then moved
the lamp so that its light fell on the board in
" There ! " she said. " Finish him, poor old
dear, and we'll wake you up when supper's
ready. Now then ! who's brought what ? "
Then, from pockets, from surplice folds,
from shawls and cloaks himg carelessly over
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 175
the arm, came forth a strange array of ar-
ticles. One had brought a chicken, one a
cake. Here was a Dutch cheese, a tin of
crackers, a bottle of coffee, a bottle of olives,
and a box of sardines. Grace herself told in
high glee how she had met one of the teachers
in the corridor, and had stood for five minutes
talking about the next day's lesson. ^^And
with this under me cloak the while ! " and
with a dramatic gesture she produced and
held out a dish of lobster salad.
"If it had been potato,'* she declared, "I
had been lost; the onion had betrayed me.
Blessings on the bland, the seductive mayon-
naise, which. veiled the ardent lobster and his
smell. She did smell it, however, and said,
so cheerfully, poor dear, that Miss Carey was
evidently going to give us a surprise to-mor-
row, for she smelt lobster. It was Miss Cort-
landt, too ; I did want to say, ' Oh, come
along, and have some ! ' She is a rectangular
fragment of baked clay, used for building
purposes. Miss Cortlandt is."
" What do you mean. Goat ? " asked some
" I never use slang, as you know ! " replied
Grace, gravely. " It argues a poverty of in-
tellect, as well as a small vocabulary. I
suppose you would have said she was a brick,
" Oh, Goat, how funny you are ! " giggled
"Not at all, I assure you," said Grace,
unmoved. "But I pray you fall to! Have
some salad, Vanity? yes, I'll take a wing,
"Isn't this perf'ly fine?" cried Viola Vin-
cent. They were all seated by this time,
some on the floor, others wherever they could
find a few inches of spare room, and were
dispensing the viands with reckless liberality.
" I say ! I wish we had these every week,
instead of only once a year. Why, it's just
as easy ! Oh, what an elegant cream pie !
Give me some ! "
" No ! " said Grace Wolfe, with emphasis.
" Why not ? What's the matter. Goat ? "
" I will not have pies called elegant while
I am leader of this Gang," said Grace. " Take
my life, if you will, but spare my feelings ! "
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 177
"All right," said Viola, cheerily. "Your
own way, Goat. I'd just as lief call it dandy,
and it is dandy, you can't deny that."
" Perhaps the Goat is thinking of succeed-
ing her Puggy in the rhetoric chair ! " said
Blanche Haight, with a sneer.
" Perhaps I am thinking of stopping your
— " began Grace ; but she checked herself,
and turned away abruptly.
" Look at Colney ! " said Vivia Varnham.
" Isn't she too perfectly killing ? She doesn't
know we are here, I believe. Look at her
hair, girls! It gets more ratty, not to say
woozzy, every day. I wonder when she
brushed it last."
"Possibly when you brushed your man-
ners," said the Scapegoat. "Colney is our
hostess, I beg to remind you. And nobody
giving her a bite of supper ! "
She rose from the floor, piled a plate with
good things, and went over to the corner
where Colney Hatch was bending over her
mouse, conscious of nothing else.
" Here, Colney ; here's your supper."
" Oh, thank you, Grace," said Colney, look-
ing Tip for a moment. "But I can't, you
know. Both my hands are full, you see."
" Then open your mouth/' commanded the
Scapegoat, in tones of authority.
Colney obeyed meekly, and Grace stood
over her, feeding her like a baby with the
choicest morsels, and now and then casting
a glance over her shoulder at the others.
Grace's gaiety was fitful to-night, certainly.
When she first came in she had been the life
of the party ; now, as she stood there in the
corner, her brow was overcast, her eyes
gloomy. What ailed the Lone Wolf ?
What were they saying over there ? They,
at least, were at the very height of glee,
breaking into gusts of giggling, into whisper-
ings ending in squeaks and smothered screams.
"To-morrow night? Hurrah! Through
Broadway, of course."
" Freshy ? Oh, Freshy won't say anything.
She wouldn't dare to, in the first place."
"She'd dare fast enough," said Viola.
"She isn't afraid of anything, Freshy isn't.
But she's safe, she won't say anything."
"What's all this?" demanded the Scape-
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 179
goat, coming back with the empty plate.
" Plans ? Does one hear them ? "
" The apples are all gone," said Kitty
Green. "We're going for some to-morrow
night, Goat. You'll go, too, of course ? "
" Going out through Broadway," said Viola.
" We haven't been out for more than a week,
and the moon will be nearly full to-morrow.
It'll be perf'ly fine. Goat, won't it?"
"Veto!" said Grace, calmly.
" Veto ? Why, what do you mean ? "
" What's wrong ? "
" What has happened ? "
" Nothing has happened. Boots are no
longer free, that's all."
" Do speak English, Grace Wolfe ! What
do you mean ? "
" There — are — to — be — no more — free-
booting expeditions — through Broadway. Is
that sufficiently plain, or shall I spell the
Blanche Haight rose to her feet, several
of the other girls following her. " What is
the matter with you to-night, Goat ? " she said.
" We don't seem to succeed in satisfying you.
Aren't we good enough company for you, per-
haps?" And Blanche sneered in her own
particular manner, of which she was proud.
" I make no remarks/' said the Scapegoat,
in her quietest tones. " I have not been per-
sonal. I merely say, while I lead this Gang,
there will be no more expeditions through
"And how long do you suppose you will
lead this Gang, if you play the part of Pope
and emperor?" demanded Blanche.
The other girls began to murmur and pro-
test at this. " Listen to the Goat ! " said one
and another. " She must have some reason,
or she wouldn't act so."
But Grace seized her opportunity.
"How long?" she repeated. "Not an
hour ! not a second ! I resign. My last act
is to break up this meeting. To your tents,
Israel ! "
Then arose such a confusion of whispering,
exclaiming, disclaiming, entreating, protest-
ing, that no one voice could be heard. The
owner of the room, fairly roused for a mo-
ment (but indeed she had finished the mouse).
FACULTY MEETING AND BEDLAM. 181
turned round to see what was wrong. For a
moment she saw the two leaders, Grace and
Blanche, facing each other, the one pale and
quiet, the other red with anger, her eyes dart-
ing spiteful flames. Next moment, Grace
made a single quick movement, and the room
was in darkness. She had blown out the
" To your tents ! " she repeated, sternly.
And, hurrying, whispering, stumbling over
the remains of their feast scattered on the
floor, the frightened girls obeyed.
TEACHEK AND PUPIL.
The day after the escapade was the worst
one that Peggy Montfort had ever known.
She was too strong and healthy to lie awake
all nightj though it was much later than usual
before she ceased to toss in uneasy wretched-
ness and lay peacefully sleeping. When morn-
ing came, she woke, and for a moment greeted
the bright day joyfully. Then " remembrance
came like a hand at her throat, and she shiv-
ered, and all the blue seemed to fade away,
and leave nothing but cold, miserable gray
over all the world. What had she done? What
would Uncle John and Margaret, what would
Brother Hugh think, if they should know
this ? Slowly and heavily she dressed and
went down to breakfast. There, it seemed as
if everybody knew what she had done. Miss
Russell's eyes rested thoughtfully on her as
TEACHEK AND PUPIL. 183
she bade her good morning; Peggy shrank
away, and could not meet the gaze. If she
did not know now, she would soon. "An
honest, steady, sensible girl ! " Well, Miss Rus-
sell would find she had been mistaken, that
was all ; and of course she would never trust
again where she had once been deceived. And
yet Peggy knew in her heart that there was
no girl in the school who was so little likely
to do this thing again as herself. She was by
nature, as I have said, a law-abiding creature,
with a natural reverence for authority. To
have set the law at defiance was bad enough ;
to have done it secretly, and betrayed the
trust that had been placed in her, that was
worse ! That was beyond possibility of par-
don. Thus argued Peggy in her wretched-
ness ; and all through the morning she went
over it again and again, and yet again, seeing
no help or comfort anjrwhere. Bertha Haugh-
ton, always quick in sympathy, saw the
trouble in her friend's face, and came over in
"gym" and begged to know what was the
matter. Wasn't Peggy well ? Had anything
happened to trouble her ? Peggy shook her
head ; she could not tell even this good friend
— yet. There was some one else who must
be told first. She promised to come to the
Owls' Nest later in the day, and Bertha was
forced to be content with this, and left her
with a vague sense of uneasiness and a feel-
ing that somehow little Peggy had grown
suddenly older and more mature. Yes, there
is nothing like trouble for that !
It was almost a relief when the summons
" Miss Montf ort. Miss Russell would like to
see you in the study."
Peggy steadied herself for the encounter,
and went quietly. If only she could be met
with a cold look, it would be easier, somehow
— but no ! the Principal's gray eyes were as
kind as ever, her smile as gravely sweet, as
she said, pleasantly, " Good morning, Miss
Montf ort. Good afternoon, I should say; I
forgot how late it was. Sit down for a mo-
ment, will you? I want to ask you about
Peggy did not want to sit down. She
wanted to stand still and go through with it.
TEACHER AND PUPIL. 185
and then get away to her own room. But
there was no disregarding the request, so she
sat down on the edge of a chair and set her
" I hardly know where to begin ! " said Miss
Russell. "I am going to take you into my
confidence — Peggy."
Peggy shivered a little, but said nothing,
only set her teeth harder.
" There has been a good deal of trouble,"
Miss Russell went on, " a good deal of trouble
in former years with the room which you now
occupy. The girl who occupied it was — was
wild and undisciplined, and took pleasure in
breaking bounds, and in inducing others to do
so. She — there were a number of girls who
used to go out without leave, by way of the
fire-escape outside the window."
She paused a moment, and looked at Peggy,
but Peggy made no sign.
" That girl — left the school last year, not
to return ; but there are several still here who
used to share in those wild pranks (under-
taken in mere thoughtlessness, I am glad to
think, and not with any evil intent), and I
have been afraid — in fact, it has come to my
ears, that the room was again being used for
the same purpose."
She paused again ; but still Peggy was
silent. What could she say? Besides, no
question had been asked her — yet !
The question came. "You are silent, Peggy.
Do you know anything about this matter?"
"Yes, Miss Russell ! '' said Peggy, faintly.
"I feel," said the Principal, in a tone of
regret, " that I have been to blame in not
warning you of this beforehand, and putting
you on your guard. I had hoped that when
Bil — when the young lady of whom I spoke
was gone, the whole thing would die out; it is
a distressing thing to warn a pupil against her
schoolmates. Still, I feel that in this case I
ought to have done so. I place entire confi-
dence in you, Peggy. I am sure that you
would not yourself break the rules of the
school ; but you may have been put to incon-
venience and distress by the lawlessness of
others. I am very sorry if this has been the
Peggy shut her eyes tight, and said " Mar-
TEACHER AND PUPIL. 187
garet ! " twice to herself. Then she looked at
"Miss Russell," she said, — she tried to
steady her voice, but it would come strange
and shaky, — "you are mistaken about me.
I am not the kind of girl you think I am. I
— I went out last night without leave, by the
There was a silence.
"Who induced you — that is, with whom
did you go ? " asked Miss Russell, presently.
"I — I didn't say that any one else went."
"No, my dear, you did not say so. But
— " and here Miss Russell rose, and, crossing
the room, laid her hand on Peggy's shoulder ;
" if I know anything at all of girls, you did
not go alone, and you did not go of your own
motion. And — Peggy, if you were not the
kind of girl I thought you, you would not be
feeling as you do now about the whole thing."
This was too much. Peggy could have
borne, or she thought she could have borne,
anger or scorn, or the cold indifference that
is born of contempt; but the kind tone, the
look of affectionate inquiry, the friendly hand
on her shoulder, — all this she could not bear.
She covered her face with her hands and burst
into a passion of tears.
It seemed hours that she wept, and sobbed,
and wept again. It did not seem as if she
could ever stop, the tears came rushing so
fast and so violently; but however long it
was. Miss Russell did not try to stop or check
her, only stood by with her hand on the girl's
shoulder, patting it now and then, or putting
back with the other hand — such a soft, firm,
motherly hand it was ! — the stray locks
which kept falling over Peggy's face as the
sobs shook her from head to foot.
At last, however, the storm abated a little ;
and then, while Peggy was trying to dry her
tears, and the choking sobs were subsiding
into long, deep breathings. Miss Russell spoke
"Peggy, we teachers have to go a good
deal by instinct, do you know it? It is not
possible for me, for example, to know every
one of seventy-odd girls as I ought to know
her, by actual contact and communion. But
I have acquired a sort of sense, — I hardly
TEACHER AND PUPIL. 189
know what to call it, — an insight by means
of which I can tell pretty well what a girl's
standard of life is, and how I can best help
her. I know that now I can best help you
and myself by saying — and meaning — just
what I said before. I place entire confidence
in you, Peggy Montfort."
Peggy looked up in amazement ; could she
believe what she heard ?
"To some girls," the Principal went on,
"the taste of stolen fruit is sweet, and hav-
ing once tasted it, they hanker for more. To
you, it is bitter."
" Oh ! " said Peggy ; and the gasping ex-
clamation was enough.
" Very bitter ! " said the Principal. " I
speak not from impulse, but from experience,
when I tell you that there is no girl in the
school to-day whom I could sooner trust not
to commit this offence than you, who com-
mitted it last night."
Her own thought, almost her own words.
Peggy raise her head again, and this time her
eyes were full of a new hope, a new courage.
" I believe that is true. Miss Russell," she
said, simply. " I had thought that myself,
but 1 didn't suppose — I didn't think — ''
" You did not think tliat I would know
enough to understand it ! " said Miss Russell,
smiling. " Well, you see I do, though we
both owe it partly to dear Emily Cortlandt,
who reminded me of my duty and of your
position. Now, Peggy, I have a recitation,
and we must part. I put you in charge of
' Broadway,' fully and freely. No one must
come in, and no one must go out, by that
window. And if you have any trouble," she
added, with a smile, " if you have any trouble
and do not think it right to tell me, call for
the Owls, and they will help you. Good-bye,
She held out her hand, and Peggy took it
with a wild desire to kiss it, or to fall down
and kiss the hem of her gown who had shown
herself thus an angel of S3niipathy and kind-
ness. But the Principal bent down and kissed
the girl's forehead lightly and tenderly.
"We shall be friends always now," she
said, simply. " Don't forget, Peggy ! "
She was gone, and Peggy took her own
TEACHER AND PUPIL. 191
way in the opposite direction, hardly know-
ing whither she was going. Her heart was
so full of joy and love and gratitude, it
seemed as if she must break out into singing
or shouting. Was ever any one so kind, so
noble, so lovely? How could any one not
try to do her very, very best, to deserve
the care and friendship of such a teacher as
Passing as if on wings through the geome-
try room, she saw a figure crouching over a
desk, and was aware of Rose Barclay, bent
over her book, and crying bitterly. Nothing
could hold Peggy back in that moment of
exaltation. In an instant she was at the
girl's side. " Let me help you ! " she cried.
" Please let me ; I know I can."
Rose Barclay looked up fiercely. " I asked
you to help me, once ! " she said. " I am not
likely to ask again. Go away, please, and let
" No, I won't ! " said stout Peggy. " You
never would let me explain, but now you are
going to let me. I couldn't show you my ex-
ample, and I wouldn't, and I never will ; but I
could make you see how to do your own right,
and that's what I am going to do now."
Down she sat without more ado ; took the
pencil from the unwilling hand, and set to
work on an imaginary problem. Rose Bar-
clay sat still for a moment with averted
face, pride and shame doing their best to
silence the better voices within her. At
length she stole a glance at Peggy's face, and
there beheld such a shining expanse of good-
will and friendliness that Pride and Co. gave
up the battle, and retreated into their dens.
Heaving a long sigh of relief, she bent for-
ward, and soon was following with all her
might Peggy's clear and lucid explanation.
"Why, yes!" said Rose, at last. "Why,
I do see. Why, I do believe I could do that
" Of course you can ! " said Peggy. " Here,
take the pencil, and I'll give you one."
Ste did so, and, after some screwing of the
mouth and knitting of the brows. Rose actu-
ally did do it, and felt like Wellington after
Waterloo. Then, at Peggy's instigation, she
tackled the actual lesson, and, steered by Pro-
TEACHER AND PUPIL. 193
fessor Peggy, went through it triumphantly.
Then she turned on her instructor.
" What made you come and help me, Peggy
Montfort ? I've been perfectly hateful to you,
you know I have. I wouldn't have helped
you, if you had acted the way I have."
" Oh, yes, you would," said Peggy, good-
" Why — why, you have been crjdng, too ! "
said Rose, examining her benefactress more
closely. " Peggy, you have been crying
awfully, I know you have."
" Yes, I have," said Peggy ; " I have cried
my eyes out, and I never was so happy in my
life. Come on, and have a game of ball ! "
DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS.
The Junior Reception was " on." In fact,
it was to take place this very evening, and an
air of subdued excitement hung over the
whole school. All the other classes were
invited, as well as the Faculty and many
friends from outside ; it was sure to be a
delightful occasion. Peggy was fortunate
enough to be one of the auxiliaries called in
by the Snowy Owl to help in the decorations,
and she counted it a high privilege, as indeed
it was. As a general thing, there is more
sympathy between juniors and freshmen than
between any other two classes in school or
college ; various reasons may be assigned for
this, but it remains the fact. Besides this,
however, Peggy felt a very special bond
with the " Jews," because her dearest friends
DECOKATION AND OTHER THINGS. 195
were among them. This had come about
partly from the accident of her coming late to
school, and so being put into the junior cor-
ridor ; but it was still more due to her making
instant acquaintance, as we have seen, with
the Fluffy Owl, and through her with the
beloved and powerful Snowy. These two
girls, through their wise and gentle ways,
were a power for good in the whole school,
and especially in their own class. They were
queens of the steady and right-minded ma-
jority, while Grace Wolfe led the wilder and
less disciplined spirits. The Owls went their
quiet way, and troubled themselves little, less
perhaps than they should have done, about
the doings of the " Gang." They were busy
with study, with basket-ball, with a hundred
things ; they could not always know (espe-
cially when pains were taken that they should
not know) what tricks the Scapegoat and her
wild mates were up to.
Both Owls had a real affection for Peggy,
and though they knew nothing as yet of the
recent escapade, they felt that it would be
well to keep her rather under their wing, the
more so that Grace had undoubtedly taken a
fancy to the child, too.
" She's too fascinating ! " said the Snowy.
" We shall have the Innocent falling in love
with her if we don't look out, and that would
never do ! "
" Never ! " said the Fluflfy, shaking her
head wisely ; but she added, in an undertone,
" If only the mischief isn't done already ! "
So the two asked Peggy to help them in
the work of preparing the gymnasium for the
great event, and she consented with delight.
She was making plenty of friends in her own
class, oh, yes ; especially now that she and
Rose Barclay had made it up. She was the
one stay and comfort of poor little Lobelia
Parkins, and was devotedly kind to that for-
lorn creature, taking her out to walk almost
by main force, and presenting to all comers a
front of such stalwart, not to say pugnacious,
determination, that no one dared to molest
the girl when Peggy was with her. Spite of
all this, however, her heart remained in Cor-
ridor A, and she would have left the whole
freshman class in the lurch at one whistle
DECORATION — AND OTHER THINGS. 197
from the Owls — or, alas ! from the Scape-
But all this is by the way, and does not
help us to get up the Junior Reception.
There had been an early morning expedi-
tion to the neighbouring woods (not, how-
ever, through the fire-escape), and Peggy and
the Owls had returned each with a wheel-
barrow-load of boughs and ground pine and
all manner of pleasant woodland things.
The leaves had turned, and were glowing
with scarlet and gold and russet. These
were put in water, lest they should begin to
curl and wither before night ; while the ever-
greens were heaped in a comer and left to
their fate. Now it was afternoon, and the
girls, released from their tasks, had flown to
the scene of action. Already the gymnasium
began to assume a festive appearance. Sev-
eral garlands were in place, and on the floor
sat six or eight juniors, busily weaving
more. Ladders stood here and there. At
the top of one stood the Snowy Owl, arrang-
ing a " trophy," as she called it, of brilliant
leaves, on another, Peggy was valiantly ham-
mering, as she arranged in festoons the long
folds of green and white bunting that the
Fluffy handed up to her. The Fluffy was a
curious sight, being swathed in bunting from
head to foot. When Peggy demanded " more
slack," she simply turned around a few times
and unrolled herself, thus presenting the
appearance of an animated spool.
"It's effective," said Gertrude, surveying
her from her perch, " but I can't say that it
looks comfortable. How ever did you get
yourself into such a snarl. Fluff ? "
"Why, I was measuring it, don't you
know ? " said Bertha, " and it got all into a
heap on the floor, and there was so much of
it I didn't know what to do. So I began to
roll it round and round myself, and the first
thing I knew I was the cocoon-thing you see
before you. I feel as if I ought to come out
a butterfly, somehow."
" They are lovely colours ! " said Peggy.
"There's nothing' so pretty as green and
white. How do you choose your colours?
We haven't chosen ours yet, but I suppose we
DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 199
"The Snowy chose them/' said Bertha.
" They were Sir Somebody-or-other's colours at
the Siege of Acre. I wanted scarlet, because
that was Launcelot's — "
"Fluffy ! it was nothing of the kind ! "
"Well, you know what I mean, Snowy;
don't make a cannibal meal of me. Scarlet
was Elaine's colour, and Launcelot wore it;
that was what I meant."
"I thought — " said Peggy, timidly, "I
thought she was the Lily Maid; I thought
she wore white."
** "Did, herself," said the Snowy, with her
mouth full of tacks. " But she gave him a
scarlet sleeve embroidered with pearls, and he
wore it on his helmet, and that was what
made Guinevere throw the diamonds into the
" Oh ! " said Peggy, meekly. She had
tried to read the "Idyls of the King," but
could not make out much except the fighting
" Never understood why tliey had sleeves so
often," said Bertha, abstractedly bunching the
green and white draperies. " Never could see
how they got the sleeve on the hehnet in any
kind of shape. What sort of sleeves did they
have then, anyhow ? Why, they were those
tight ones, weren't they, with a slashed cap at
the top ? Well, now. Snowy, that would look
perfectly absurd on a helmet, you know it
The Snowy deigned no reply; or perhaps
the tacks were in a perilous position at that
moment. Bertha went on, thoughtfully :
" A balloon sleeve, now, would be more
sensible ; you could slip it over the helmet,
and it would look like — like the shade of ^
piano lamp. But somehow, whenever I read
about it, I see a small, tight, red sleeve, spread
out like a red flannel bandage, as if the helmet
had a sore throat — "
"Fluffy, you are talking absolute non-
sense ! " said Gertrude, regaining utterance.
"And after all, they had gloves oftener than
sleeves ; not that that makes it much better.
For my part, I always think of a glove with
all the five fingers sticking up out of the middle
of the crown, as if they had tried to be feathers
and been nipped in the bud."
DECOEATION — AND OTHEK TniNGS. 201
" Feathers don't bud ! " said Bertha, hand-
ing up more slack.
"But the real thing/' Gertrude went on,
" the beautiful, graceful thing for the knight
to wear, was the scarf. He could do any-
thing he liked with that ; tie it around his
helmet, or across his breast, — that was the
proper way of course, — or around his waist.
" A green scarf, that is what I would have !
Very soft, so that it would go through a
finger-ring, and yet wide enough to shake out
into wonderful folds, you know, so that he could
wrap himself up in it, and think of me, and —
what's the matter, Peggy, why do you sigh?"
"Did I sigh?" said Peggy, looking con-
fused. " It was nothing, Snowy. I was only
thinking — thinking how stupid I was, and
how Margaret would like all the things you
"Meaning sleeves ? "
" No, oh, no ! but about knights, and chiv-
alry, and all that kind of thing. Margaret
loves it so ! She used to try to read Froissart
to me, but it always put me to sleep. I sup-
pose you like Froissart, Gertrude ? "
She spoke so wistfully that Gertrude took
the tacks out of her mouth (she should never
have put them in; a junior should have
known better ! )- that she might reply the
" Why, Peggy, yes, I do like Froissart, but
it never troubles me when people don't care
for my kind of books. You see, there are so
many kinds, such an endless variety, and
good in so many different ways. Now you,
for example, would like the Jungle Books,
and the ' Cruise of the Cachalot^^ and all kinds
of books of adventure."
" I don't know what is adventure if Frois-
sart isn't," Bertha put in.
" Yes, but it's all too far away, too remote.
I know how Peggy feels, because I have a
cousin who is just that way. She used to
think she should never read anything at all ;
then one day she got hold of Kipling, and the
worlds opened, and the doors thereof. Just
you come to me for the Jungle Books some
day, Innocent, and you'll see. Look here, I
want lots and lots, and again lots more leaves.
Where are they all? I don't see any more, but
DECORATION — AND OTHER THINGS. 203
there must be any quantity. I brought in a
whole copse, myself."
" We put them all into the old swimming-
tank, don't you remember ? <Jh, no ; you went
in before we had finished this morning. Well,
they are there. Stay where you are, Snowy,
and Peggy and I will get a couple of loads."
The two girls ran down-stairs to the lower
floor. Part of this was taken up, as we have
already seen, by dressing-rooms, but it was
only a small part. The larger space was oc-
cupied by the great swimming-tank, five feet
deep, and twenty by thirty feet in area. The
tank was not used now, but the water was
still connected, and could be turned on by
special permission. Now, accordingly, the
water in the bottom was about two feet deep,
and the whole surface was a blaze of autumn
colours, great branches of maple, oak, and ash
covering it completely.
" Pretty, isn't it ? " said Bertha. " Like a
little sunset sea all alone by itself, without
any sun to set. The next question is, how
are we to get at them ? "
" Oh, that's easy enough!" said Peggy. " I
can reach them easily from the edge, and I'll
hand them over to you."
Suiting the action to the word, she climbed
up on the broad toarble slab which formed the
edge of the great tank.
Then, bending down, she brought up a
great branch of golden maple, fresh and drip-
ping. She shook it, and a diamond shower
fell back on the dark space left vacant ; then
another branch floated quietly over and filled
the space again.
" You'll be wet through ! " said Bertha. " I
don't suppose you care ? "
" No, indeed ! I'd rather be wet than not,
when I'm doing things."
"I'll remember that," said Bertha, slyly,
"and come round with a watering-can next
time you are reciting your rhetoric. Give me
some red now ; oh, that is a beauty ! There !
that's enough for one load ; unless you see
just one more little one that is superlatively
" That is just what I do see ! Hold on a
minute ! this is such a beauty, you must have
it, if I — oh!"
DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 205
Peggy had been leaning as far as she could
over the broad tank, fishing for the gay
branch, which floated provokingly just out of
reach. At last she touched it — grasped it —
drew it toward her; when all in a moment
she slipped on the marble, now wet and glossy
with the falling drops, clutched the air —
slipped again — and fell headlong into the
tank, with a mighty splash.
Bertha shrieked. There was an answering
shriek from above, and Gertrude, followed by
all the other girls, came flying down the
'^ What has happened ? What — where is
Peggy ? "
'" In the tank ! " cried Bertha. " Oh ! dear
me, what shall we do ? Peggy, are you much
" No ; I — think not!" spluttered Peggy. "I
came down on my nose, that's all. Feels as
if it was broken, but I don't know — no ! It
doesn't crack when I wiggle it. It's bleeding
a good deal, though. Perhaps I'd better stay
in till it stops."
Bertha tried to climb up to the perch
which Peggy had so suddenly left vacant,
but in vain ; her legs were far too short.
Gertrude, however, came with a flying leap,
and scrambled cat-like up the side of the tank.
Looking down, with the kindest heart in the
world, and a world of sympathy to fill it, she
still could not help bursting into a peal of
laughter. Peggy, sitting in the tank, crowned
with gold and scarlet leaves, and dripping like
Undine, was certainly a funny spectacle.
"Oh, do forgive me for laughing, Peggy
dear ! " cried Gertrude. " You — you do look
funny, but I'm dreadfully sorry."
" Well, I'm laughing myself," said Peggy,
" I don't see why you shouldn't. But did you
ever hear of a water-nymph with a nosebleed?
If I could only get at my pocket — "
" Here, take mine," and Gertrude dropped
her handkerchief, which Peggy caught adroitly.
" My dear," Gertrude went on, " it seems
so strange to have some one besides me
falling about and dropping herself. I used
to be the one, always. They called me
^Dropsy' at home; and I fell in here last
year, Peggy, and I know exactly how it
DECORATION AND OTHER THINGS. 207
feels. Here ! take my hand and scramble
Peggy, still sitting in the water, which
covered her to the waist, looked about her
thoughtfully. "It seems a pity, now I am
here, not to have some good of it," she said,
" If it were only a foot deeper, or I weren't
bothered with all these petticoats, I might
have a good swim. However, I suppose I
may as well get out — if I can. Take care,
Snowy — oh ! take care ! "
Alas ! for the Snowy Owl ! After all, she
was still Gertrude Merryweather. The marble
was wet — she bent down to take Peggy's
hand — there was another tremendous splash,
and two Undines sat in the tank, gazing
speechless on each other. This was too much
for the composure of any one. Both Peggy
and Gertrude sat helpless, shaking with
laughter, and absolutely unable to move.
Bertha, outside, fairly went into hysterics,
and laughed and screamed in one breath;
while the other girls raised such a clamour of
mingled mirth and terror that Emily Cort-
landt, who had just come in to take a look at
the decorations, came running down-stairs,
dreading she knew not what.
One look over the edge of the tank, and
Miss Cortlandt was not so very much better
than the rest of them ; but she recovered her-
self sooner. Wiping her eyes, she proceeded
at once to the business of rescuing the two
involuntary divers. It proved impossible for
them to climb up, the sides being too slippery,
and the flying leap being out of the question
in two feet of water. She brought a short
ladder, and in another moment first one
nymph and then the other came up from
their fountain, and dripped little rivers on the
"Is either of you hurt?" asked Miss
" Not I ! " said Gertrude, ruefully. " I feU
on top of poor Peggy, and she makes a per-
fect cushion. How are you, Peggy ? Did I
half kill you ? "
" Not a bit ! I think perhaps IVe sprained
my wrist a little, but that was when I went
in myself. No, I'm all right; truly I am,
DECORATION — AND OTHER THINGS. 209
Miss Cortlandt. I'll just go and change my
clothes, and then come back and finish."
Emily Cortlandt did not come of amphibious
stock. " You will do nothing of the kind ! "
she said. " You ought to go to bed, Peggy,
and Gertrude, too ; but I suppose you would
think that a terrible piece of injustice."
" Yes, Miss Cortlandt, we should ! " replied
both girls, in a breath.
"And I know that you have both been
brought up more or less like whales ; so I'll
let you off with camphor pills and peppermint
drops. Those you Tniist have. Run along
and change everything — everything, mind ! —
and I'll come around in five minutes and dose
you. Run, now ; make it a race, and I'll add
hot lemonade to the stakes, — first prize and
booby prize ! "
"Yes, Miss Cortlandt," cried the two Un-
dines ; and off they set in a shower of spray,
with the other girls at their heels.
It aU came from Peggy's forgetting her
handkerchief. That was nothing remarkable.
Rapidly though our heroine was developing,
there was still plenty of the old Peggy left ;
and when she looked up at Miss Russell with
a certain imploring gaze, the Principal was
apt to say, without waiting for anything
further : " Yes, Peggy, you may ; but do try
to remember it next time ! "
But this time it was well that Peggy had
not remembered it. She stumbled across the
long dining-room quite in her own way, stub-
bing her toe against a sophomore's chair, and
sending the sophomore's spoon clattering to
the ground. Stooping, in confusion, to pick
it up, with muttered apologies, she encountered
the sophomore's head bent down for the same
AN ADVENTURE. 211
purpose, and some mutual star-gazing ensued.
Finally she did manage to get out of the room,
after cannoning against the door and taking
most of the skin off her nose, and made her
way up-stairs ruefully, rubbing the places that
hurt most, and wondering where in her anat-
omy lay the " clumsy bone " that her father
always talked about. " And it isn't there all
the time ! " said poor Peggy. " Sometimes I
don't fall into anything for days, and then, all
at once, it's like this ! "
Shaking her head dolefully, she reached her
own room, got the handkerchief, remembered
with a great effort to shut the drawer, and
came out into the corridor again — to come
face to face with a man emerging from the
The opposite room was Vanity Fair ; and the
man's hands were full of trinkets and knick-
knacks, and his pockets bulged in a suspicious
way. He cast a wild glance over Peggy's
shoulder at the open door of her room and the
fire-escape beyond ; evidently he had entered
by that way, and counted on the dinner-hour's
keeping every one below stairs till he got safe
away. Now, however, baffled in this, he
turned down the corridor with some degree of
" Stop ! " said Peggy. "Who are you, and
what are you doing here ? "
"I'm the plumber, miss," said the man,
still walking away.
" Put down those things ! " cried Peggy.
" Do you hear ? or I'll call the police ! "
Apparently the man did not hear, or else
did not fancy the idea suggested to him, for
he began to run down the long corridor as fast
as he could go.
So it came ta pass that the school, waiting
peacefully for its pudding, heard a sound of
hasty feet scurrying down the stairs. Then,
all in a rush, came past the door the flying
figure of a man, with Peggy Montfort in hot
"Stop thief!" Peggy shouted it once, and
then prudently saved her breath. The man
fumbled for an instant at the front door,
gave it up, darted into Miss Russell's study.
Crash went a window ; he was out, with
Peggy at his heels, and away across the lawn.
AN ADVENTURE. 213
" Stop thief ! " the cry rang through the
school ; and, lo ! in the twinkling of an eye
there was no school there. The long dining-
room was emptied as if by magic ; the front
door flew open, and out streamed the seventy
maidens, all crying " Stop thief ! " all run-
ning their very best to come up with the
There were some good runners at Pentland
School; but after the first few minutes of
running together, jostling and pushing, two
girls drew rapidly away from the rest, and
soon left them far behind. Gertrude Merry-
weather and Grace Wolfe had long been
friendly rivals in what they called the royal
sport of running. Perhaps neither of them
was sorry of this opportunity for a "good
spurt." Certainly it was a pretty sight, the
two tall, graceful creatures, lithe and long-
limbed as young greyhounds, speeding over
the ground, their arms held close at their
sides, their eyes flashing, youth and strength
seeming to radiate from them as they ran.
Now one drew ahead a little, now the other ;
but for the most part they kept side by side.
for both were running their best, not only for
the joy and honour of the thing, but because
it was necessary to arrive, to help Peggy and
catch the thief.
The thief was evidently not a trained ath-
lete, but he was doing his best. He had cut
himself a good deal in smashing the window,
and had thrown away part of his booty, hop-
ing that his relentless pursuer might be con-
tent, and might stop to pick up the brooches
and belt-buckles that lay at her feet; but
Peggy never looked at them, and held on
straight after him, gaining, undoubtedly gain-
ing. The man doubled back across the lawn,
hoping to reach the gate and safety ; but Peggy
headed him off as quietly and coolly as if he
were an unruly steer in the home stock-yard.
Again he doubled, and again the girl was
running in a diagonal to cut off his approach
to the wished-f or retreat. But now he caught
sight of the two tall avengers bearing down
upon him, and the school in full cry behind.
He made a desperate spurt and reached the
gate; it was half open, and as he rushed
through he slammed it behind him with a
AN ADVENTURE. 215
hoarse shout of defiance. But much Peggy
cared for gates ! She was over in an instant,
and at his heels again. And realising this,
the rascal suddenly changed his tactics. He
stopped short, and, turning on Peggy a villain-
ous face, bade her with an oath, " Come on,
and see what she would get for it ! "
The words had not left his lips, when a
ludicrous change came over the man's face.
He uttered a wild yell, and fell headlong,
almost at Peggy's feet. When Peggy saw this,
she knew what to do ; and when Grace and
Gertrude came flying up a moment after, they
found her sitting quietly on the rascal's head,
and telling Colney Hatch to go for the police.
Colney had been watching the evolutions
of a new and extremely interesting spider.
The spider had made her web in the hedge
beside the road ; and Colney, as soon as morn-
ing recitations were over, had hastened thither,
and sat down under the hedge to watch,
undisturbed by thoughts of dinner or of any
other known thing. So watching, it came to
pass that she heard the sound of rushing feet
so close that it actually did disturb her ; and
looked up to see an extremely ill-looking fel-
low in full flight, hotly pursued by Peggy
Montfort. When he turned to bay, it was
within a foot of the spot where Colney sat
under the hedge; and without more ado
Colney stretched put her long, lean hand, and,
grabbing the fellow by the ankles, "tripped
up his heels, and he fell on his nose."
Presently up came the school, panting and
breathless; with them Miss Cortlandt, who
had been saying to herself that if she ever let
herself get out of practice in running again
she would know the reason why. Finally,
up came William the chore-man from one
direction (for Miss Russell had gone straight
to the kitchen and given the alarm there),
and the next-door neighbour from the other ;
whereupon Constable Peggy got up from her
uneasy seat, and handed over her prize to the
tender mercies of his own sex.
" Git up, ye varmint ! " said William, stir-
ring the prostrate figure with his foot. " Git
up, and say what yeVe got to say for yerself ."
The man got up, bewildered, and shaking
his head as if he expected it to come off.
AN ADVENTURE. 217
'' She 'most killed me! " he sptuttered. " I
ain't got no breath left in my body."
" Small loss if ye hain't! " retorted William.
" What's he ben doin', gals ? " William never
would sa,y "young ladies," which distressed
Miss Russell ; but he was so valuable, as she
" Stealing ! " said Peggy, briefly. " I met
him coming out of one of the rooms."
" I snum ! " said William. " You're a nice
kind o' harmonium, ben't ye? Tu'n out yer
pockets ! "
" She sot down on my head ! " muttered
the man. "Somethin' come up out o' the
ground at me and knocked me down, and
then she sot down on my head. I'm 'most
killed, I tell ye ! "
"Well, who cares if ye be?" replied
William, with some irritation. "It's a pity
she didn't finish the job, that's all I've got to
say. Tu'n out yer pockets, will ye ? "
The man obeyed unwillingly, still muttering ;
and out came a mass of lockets, pins, and chains,
enough, in spite of those he had thrown away,
to furnish half the girls in the school.
After searching to see the surrender was
complete, William adjured the next-door
neighbour, a stout and silent person named
Simpson, who had been standing by, to
"take t'other arm, and we'll walk him
down to the lock-up jest as easy ! ". The
thief begged and prayed, and, finding that
useless, took to cursing and swearing ; where-
upon William and Mr. Simpson marched
him off in short order, and all three dis-
appeared around the turn leading to the High
The school was left standing in the road,
still panting with haste and excitement.
They had been silent during William's col-
loquy with the man, but now the strings of
their tongues were loosened, and the flood
of speech broke loose.
" My dear ! "
" My dear ! I never was so excited in my
life, were you ? "
" Where did he come from ? "
"Who saw him first?"
" Why, Peggy Montf ort, of course ! Didn't
you see her?"
AN ADVENTURE. 219
"No; I just ran, because every one else
" Perfectly distracted ! I never heard of
such a thing."
" He was in the closet — "
" No ; he was on the stairs — "
" Just getting out of the window — "
" With just her bare hands, I tell you. Just
took a — "
"Pair of earrings, nothing else in the
"But who was he — where did he come
from? What does Peggy say about it?"
" Girls ! girls ! " cried Miss Cortlandt. " Will
you please be silent for a moment ? Peggy
has not had a chance to say a word yet,
and I for one want to hear her story.
Have you got your breath yet, Peggy?
because we all want to hear, very much
" There isn't much to tell," said Peggy,
blushing. "I went up to get my handker-
chief, — I had forgotten it, — and as I was
coming out of my room, this fellow was just
coming out of the other room."
" What other room ? Whose was it ? " cried
a dozen voices.
" Why, Van — I mean No. 17, Miss Vincent
and Miss Varnham's room."
" Oh ! oh ! " a shrill scream was heard ;
and Viola Vincent pushed her way through
the crowd of girls, and threw herself upon
"My Veezy-vee!" she cried. "It was my
room ! V., do you hear ? It was our room
that horrid wretch was robbing. My dear, if
we had been there we should have been mur-
dered in our beds, I know we should. Peggy
Montfort has saved our lives. Isn't it per-
fectly awful ? "
" That she should have saved your lives ? "
asked the Snowy Owl, laughing. " Come to
your senses. Vanity, and don't strangle Peggy.
She's black in the face, and I shall have to
set about saving her life if you don't let her
Released from Viola's embrace, Peggy
gasped, and shook herself like a Newfound-
" Don't be ridiculous. Vanity ! " she said,
AN ADVENTURE. 221
looking at once pleased and shamefaced. " It
wasn't anything, of course ; it was just what
any one else would have done. But do look
out for your things ! They are scattered all
about the lawn ; he threw away a lot of them
when he first came out, and we shall be step-
ping on them if we don't take care. Oh ! oh,
please don't say anything more about it. It
was just the merest chance I happened to go
up." This was to Vivia Varnham, who,
trying to overcome her ungraciousness, was
expressing her gratitude for what Peggy had
done. It was evidently an effort and was not
pleasant for either girl.
The girls scattered over the lawn, pick-
ing up here a hairpin, there a brooch or
buckle. It really seemed as if Vanity Fair
was stocked like a jeweller's shop. Gertrude
Merryweather, standing by Peggy, uttered an
exclamation. " My dear ! Peggy ! Why, you
are all over blood ! You are bleeding now.
What — where — oh ! oh. Fluffy, look here ! "
Bertha came running, as Gertrude lifted Peg-
gy's arm, which was indeed dripping blood.
Both girls exclaimed in horror, and Bertha
turned quite white; but Peggy looked at it
" Oh ! " she said. " That must be where I
went through the window after him."
" Yes, didn't you hear the crash ? He
smashed the window in Miss Russell's study
and got out, and I followed him, of course.
It isn't anything. Why, I didn't feel it till
" That is excitement ! " said ' the Snowy
Owl. " You must come in and be bandaged
this minute, Peggy ! Come right along to
the Nest ; I have bandages and lint all
The Snowy Owl was all on fire with ardour
arid sympathy. Peggy looked at her in sur-
prise, but the Fluffy Owl laughed. " You
have struck the Snowy's hobby," she said.
" She is going to study medicine, you know.
Go along ; she will be happy all the rest of
the day, bandaging and cosseting you."
" But it doesn't hurt ! " said Peggy, still
" Never mind ! " said the Snowy Owl. " It
AN ADVENTURE. 223
ought to hurt, Peggy Montfort, and it will
hurt in a little while. Come along and be
bandaged ! " and, meekly wondering, Peggy
PEGGY VICTRIX !
" Well, it certainly was a great success ! "
said the Scapegoat. It was the day after the
reception, and she had drifted into the Owls'
Nest toward twilight, and now stood by the
mantelpiece, swajdng backward and forward
in the light, wind-blown way she had.
" A great success ! " she repeated, thought-
fully. ^^Whyj it was actually pleasant!
How did you manage it ? "
" We didn't manage it," said honest Bertha.
" It just came so. Everybody was ready to
have a good time, and had it ; that was all."
"More than that!" said Grace, absent-
mindedly. "There has to be a knack, or
something, and you have it. I haven't. I
couldn't do it, even if I wanted to, and I don't
think I do."
PEGGY VICTRIX! 225
" Do what ? " said the Snowy.
" Be an Owl ! " said Grace. Suddenly she
left her hold of the shelf, and turned upon
them almost fiercely.
" Why should I ? " she exclaimed. " Tell
me that, will you ? It is all natural to you.
Your blood flows quietly, and you like quiet,
orderly ways, and never want to throw things
about, or smash a window. I tell you I have
to, sometimes. Look here ! "
She caught up a vase from the shelf, and
seemed on the point of flinging it through the
closed window, but Gertrude laid her hand
on her arm firmly. " You may have a right
to throw your own things, my dear," she said,
good-naturedly. " You have no possible right
to throw mine, and ' with all respect, I do
object ! ' "
Grace gave a short laugh, and set the vase
down again ; but she still looked f rowningly
at the two girls, and presently she went on.
" It's all very well for you, I tell you.
You have a home, and a — my mother died
when I was five years old. My father — "
" Grace, dear," said Gertrude ; " come and
sit down here by me, and tell me about your
mother. I have seen her picture ; she must
have been lovely."
But Grace shook her head fiercely.
" My father is an actor, and I want to be
one, too, but he promised my mother before
she died — she didn't want me to be one.
What do I care about all this stuff we are
learning here ? I tell you I want to take a
tambourine and go on the road with a hand-
organ man. That would be life ! I would,
too, if I only had the luck to have hair and
eyes like yours. Fluffy."
" You could wear a wig, of course," said
Bertha, soberly. " The eyes would be a diffi-
culty, though, I'm afraid."
" Well, I am here now ! and I'm supposed
to stay another year, and then go to college.
Four — five years more of bondage, and tasks,
and lectures on good behaviour ! Am I likely
to stand it, I ask you ? "
" I hope so ! " said Gertrude, steadily. " It
would be a thousand pities if you didn't,
Grace, and you know it as well as I do."
" And if I do, it must be in my own way ! "
PEGGY VICTRIX! 227
cried the wild girl, swinging round again on
her heel. " And if I can make things more
endurable here — if I can get rid of — it must
be in my own way, I tell you. Snowy, you
are like your name, I suppose. You are
white and gold and calm, — I don't know
what you are, except that we are not of the
same flesh. I tell you, I turn to fire inside !
I must break out, I must go off when the fit
comes on me. I do no harm ! It doesn't hurt
anybody for me to go down the wall and cool
myself with a run in the fields. Why can't I
be let alone ? I am not a child ! I tell you it
is the way I am made ! "
The Snowy Owl rose, and, going to the fire-
place, laid her arm around Grace's shoulder.
" You are making yourself ! " she said.
" It's your own life, Wolf ; are you making it
worse or better ? "
" I'm not doing either. I am taking it as
it comes, as it was meant to come."
Gertrude shook her head quietly.
" That can't be ! " she said. " That is im-
possible. Wolf. We have to be growing one
way or the other ; we can't stay as we are,
for a year or a day. And there's another
thing: you don't seem to think about the
others, about the effect on the school. If. you
are to break the laws, why should not every
one do the same ? "
" Because they are different ! " said Grace,
" You don't know that ! They may have the
same temptations, and be stronger than you
to resist them. You ought to be a strong
girl, Grace, and, instead of that, you are weak
— as weak as water."
" Weak ? I ! " cried Grace, her eyes blazing.
" If any one else had said that to me, Gertrude
Merry weather, I would — "
" But no one else would say it to you ! "
said Gertrude. " Because no one else — ex-
cept Miss Russell — cares as much as I do —
Fluffy and I. We love you too much, Grace,
to flatter you and follow you, as most of them
do. I tell you, and you may take it as simple
truth, for it is nothing else, that which you
think strength is simply weakness, — lament-
able weakness. And as for your influence on
the other girls — just listen a moment ! "
PEGGY VICTRIX! 229
Taking up a little book from the table, she
opened it — indeed it seemed to open of its
own accord at the place — r and read :
" ' Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown
Of thee from the hill-top looking down ;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm ;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon.
Deems not that great Napoleon
Stops his horse, and lists with delight,
Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height ;
Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbour's creed hath lent.
All are needed by each one ;
Nothing is fair or good alone. ' "
There was silence when she finished read-
ing. Then — " What is that ? " asked Grace,
stretching out her hand. " Give it to me ! "
"Emerson. Take him home with you,
and let him talk to you ; he speaks well."
Grace took the book, looked it over, and
dropped it into her pocket. For a moment
she leaned her head against Gertrude's arm,
and a sigh broke from her involuntarily.
Then, all in a moment, a change came. Her
face lightened in an indescribable way, and
her eyebrows lifted with a look that both
girls knew well.
" And have you heard the news?" she said.
" There is a rumour that my Puggy leaves me
at the end of the term. How to exist, I ask
you, without her ? Othello's occupation would
be gone indeed."
" No ! is it true ? Why is she going ? What
does it mean ? "
Grace shrugged her shoulders with an elfish
" How should I know ? It appears she sees
ghosts. A ghost must be hard up, one would
think, to visit my Puggy ; there ought to be
an asylum for impoverished spectres. Would
you subscribe for it, Owls ? Good-bye ! I must
go. You mean well, and I don't bear malice.
Oh ! by the by, — " she came back for an
instant, and stood balancing herself on one
foot and looking round the edge of the door,
and she certainly looked hardly human, — "I
forgot the thing I came for. Stand by the
Innocent this evening, will you, if she should
get into trouble ? I am sent for to the study,
PEGGY VICTRIX! 231
and shall be in for a good hour's lecture, and
then bed. "
" What do you mean, Goat ? What is it ? "
asked both girls, anxiously. But the Goat
Peggy was enjoying herself extremely. She
had learned all her lessons, for a wonder, and
now she had curled herself up in a corner
with the " Jungle Book," and the rest of the
world was forgotten. There was nobody,
there never had been anybody, but Mowgli
and the Wolves. She had hunted with them,
she had slain Shere-Khan, she had talked
with Baloo and Bagheera. Her outdoor na-
ture had responded in every fibre to the call
of the Master of Magic, and he filled her with
joy and wonder. As the Snowy had said, the
worlds were opening, and the doors thereof.
Things being thus with her, she hardly
heard her own door open softly. Before she
had torn her eyes from the enchanted page,
the room was filled with silent, flitting fig-
ures — as it had been often filled before. The
girls nodded to her with silent laughter and
friendly gestures. In another moment they
would have been at the window ; but Peggy
was not dreaming now. In an instant she had
sprung from her corner among the cushions,
and stood before the window, with arms out-
spread. " No ! " she said.
The girls recoiled, paused, in amazement.
There were six of them : the two V's, Blanche
Haight, and three other sophomores. Peggy
saw with a throb of joy that Grace Wolfe was
not among them. That would have made it
"What does this mean?" asked Vivia
Varnham, with her cold smile. "You have
never made any trouble before, Peggy ; isn't
it rather late in the day ? "
" Oh, she's only in fun ! " cried Viola Vin-
cent. " Aren't you, Veezy-vee ? Why, she's
acting, girls, and she does it elegantly. It's
perf'ly fine, Veezy-vee. I didn't know you
had it in you."
" No, I am not acting," said Peggy, quietly.
"I am sorry, girls, but you can't go out.
You never can go out again, so long as I am
PEGGY VICTRIX ! 233
" Upon my word ! " cried Blanche Haight,
who had not spoken yet. " This seems to be
a pretty state of things. Perhaps you are not
aware, Miss Montf ort, that this exit was used,
long before you came to adorn the school with
your presence. We acknowledge no right
of yours to forbid us the use of it. Stand
out of the way, please."
For all reply, Peggy backed against the
window ; her face assumed an expression with
which her family was acquainted.
"When Peggy looks dour," Jean used to
say, " look out for rising winds and a falling
barometer ! "
Then Viola came forward, and began to
plead, in her pretty, wheedling way.
" Let us go, just this once ; that's a dear,
good Veezy. I know what has happened;
Miss Russell has found out, hasn't she?"
" And she has spoken to you, and of course
I know just how you feel. But you see,
Peggy, we have an appointment this time,
truly we have, with some college girls, and
you wouldn't make us break it, would you,
Veezy ? Of course you don't want us to go,
and we won't again, — at least most probably
we won't, if it is going to get you into trouble.
But we really have to go this time, Peggy,
dear, so do be nice and sweet, and let us
" No," said Peggy. " I'm sorry, Viola, but
it's no use. Nothing you can say will make
" Possibly not ! " said Blanche Haight ; she
pushed Viola aside without ceremony, and
came close to Peggy.
" Possibly nothing we can say will make a
difference. Miss Montfort, but something we
can do may make a good deal. I ask you,
fair and square, will you come away from
that window ? We are six to one, and I give
you the chance of settling this in a quiet and
friendly way. Will you come away from that
" No," said Peggy, " I will not. Is that
square enough ? "
" Then, girls," said Blanche, turning to her
followers, "we must help ourselves. We
shall see whether one freshman is going to
PEGGY VICTRIX! 235
block the way of the Gang ! You take one
arm, Viola, and I'll take the other."
" Oh, don't hurt her ! " cried Viola. " Don't
hurt her, Blanche. I'm awfully fond of
Peggy. I know she only means to do what
she thinks she ought to. Peggy, do give up !
You are all alone, and there are six of us.
Do give up, Peggy ; for my sake, Peggy !
I — I'll give you my gold bangle, the one with
the locket, if you'll only give up, Peggy ! "
Peggy smiled, and said nothing. She could
not be angry with the little butterfly, but
there was no use in wasting breath; she
might need all she had.
Blanche Haight seized one arm, Vivia Varn-
ham the other, and tried to drag her away
from the window by main force. With her
favourite Newfoundland-dog motion, Peggy
shook them off, planted a quick blow here, an-
other there, and her assailants staggered back
for a moment. In another instant, however,
they returned to the attack, and this time the
other sophomores joined, and all five threw
themselves on Peggy. Once more she shook
them off, but they closed in again, and a
struggle began, all the more fierce that no word
was spoken, no cry uttered. No cry, that is,
by the combatants. When the five set upon
Peggy, Viola ran in and made an effort to
pull them off, with piteous entreaties. But
no one paid the smallest heed to her, and the
poor little butterfly, frightened and distressed,
burst into tears, and ran away.
At the same moment, any one who had
been listening in quiet might have heard a
singular sound that seemed to come from
above, from outside — no one could tell from
where ; the cry of an owl, followed by a long,
low howl. Three times this was repeated ;
and many a junior, studying under her
lamp, looked up and said, '^What is up
now, I wonder?" for the sound recalled
freshman days, before the Lone Wolf and
the two OvAs had come to the parting of the
Three minutes later, two figures, speeding
silently along Corridor A, were met at a turn
by a third, which flung itself sobbing upon
^^ Oh, Snowy, oh, Fluffy, they are killing
PEGGY VICTRIX! 237
Peggy Montf ort ! I was coining to call you —
oh, be quick ! be quick ! "
Without stopping, somehow the Snowy
Owl managed to open a door and thrust
Viola in. It was to be noticed that neither
girl looked at her. They ran on, swift and
Indeed, it was time ! Peggy's lip was bleed-
ing, where Vivia Varnham's head had struck
against it as she fell, tripped by a pretty trick
that was learned on the Western farm. Her
hair was dragged down and hung in her eyes,
her dress was torn in a dozen places.
With one of her sudden movements she had
thrown off her assailants, and stood for an
instant alone, looking the very Spirit of Bat-
tle, with blazing eyes and scarlet cheeks.
Blanche Haight* rushed at her again, and this
time Peggy seized her around the waist in a
deadly grip. The others closed in once more,
furious, determined this time to finish with
the insolent freshman. It was like to go
hard with Peggy Montf ort this time.
What happened ? A flash, the glance of an
eye, and all was changed. The assailants fell
back, staggering across the room, gasping and
staring ; and the Snowy and the Fluflfy Owl
were standing shoulder to shoulder with
Peggy, one on either side, with stem and
For a moment there was dead silence, save
for the hard breathing as Blanche Haight
tried to wriggle out of the iron grasp that
held her — in vain ! Then Grertrude Merry-
"Miss Varnham, Miss Floyd, Miss John-
son, Miss White, Miss — who is this? — Miss
Haight. Found out of bounds and out of
hours, making a disturbance in the rooms.
To be reported to the Principal. Go to your
rooms, if you please ! "
Was this the Snowy Owl, gentle and
friendly, beloved of all ? No ! it was the
Junior President and the Monitor of Corridor
A. She might have been an avenging angel
as she stood there, tall and white and severe.
Her face softened as she bent over Peggy.
" You can let her go now ! " she said. " We
are here, Peggy, Bertha and I. It is all
right ! Let her go, child ! "
PEGGY VICTRIX! 239
Slowly and reluctantly Peggy loosed her
hold, and Blanche, half-fainting, dropped
upon the bed. She looked with feeble venom
at the two rescuers.
" Spying, eh ? '* she whispered. " Very
dignified, I'm sure, for a president. That lit-
tle sneak Viola Vincent was here too, mind !
Put her down in your precious report."
" I don't see Miss Vincent here ! " said
Gertrude, coldly. " Go to your rooms, if you
please ! I think I understand the case thor-
oughly, Blanche, thank you. Will you go, or
shall we help you ? "
But Blanche preferred to go unaided.
Silent as they had come, they slunk away,
flitting like shadows along the corridor. And
when they were gone, the two Owls sat down
on the bed and took Peggy between them,
and rocked, and petted, and soothed her ; for
lo ! the Goddess of Battle was crying like a
three years' child.
ON SPY HILL.
Things were quietly managed at Pentland
School ; there was never any outcry, any open
flurry of excitement and gossip. Many of the
scholars never knew why five girls left school
in the middle of the term. The seniors who
did know shrugged their shoulders, and said
it was a pity to have such things take the
girls* minds off their parts — looking at
everything from the point of view of Senior
Dramatics. The juniors looked pretty sober
for a week, even the sophomore spirits were
dashed for the time. But nothing was said
openly, and after awhile the scared whis-
perings died away, and work and play went
on as usual. Poor little Viola Vincent
mourned deeply the loss of her mate. She
herself had escaped with a severe reprimand,
ON SPY HILL. 241
having gone to Miss Russell to plead Vivia's
cause, and confessing frankly her own share
in the escapade. Vivia was anything but an
agreeable girl ; but she and Viola had grown
up together, next-door neighbours and com-
panions from their cradles, and Viola was lost
without her. She threw herself upon Peggy
for consolation, and Peggy found herself in
the curious position of protecting and com-
forting a junior, and a girl two years older
than herself. Viola would come in, and, curl-
ing herself up in the corner of Peggy's divan,
declare that she had come for a good cry.
A few sniffs would follow, and then perhaps
actual tears, but more likely a river of speech.
" It's no use, Peggy ! I cannot live ! I
simply can not live on in this way. I know
V. was horrid to you — yes, she was ! Oh, I
am not blind, you know, if I am a goose ! She
was horrid to most of the girls, I know she
was, but she was good to me, generally, and
it didn't matter much if she wasn't. I was
used to her little ways, and I didn't mind.
And I have always had her, you see, all my
life, and I don't — see — how I can get along
without her. I wanted to be expelled, too!
Yes, I did ! that was why I told Miss Russell
about my being there and all ; I thought she
would be sure to send me away, too. I think
it was very unjust of her not to, I'm sure.''
"Viola, don't talk so! You had nothing
to do with the — the attack, or any violence.
You would have gone away quietly when I
said you could not use the window; you
know you would."
" How do you know I would have ? I might
have torn you limb from limb, Peggy, for all
you can say. What are you laughing at ? "
For this statement, coming from a small
person with a grasp about as powerful as that
of a week-old kitten, was too much for the
stalwart Peggy's composure.
" You don't know what I am when I am
roused ! " Viola went on. " I'm awful, simply
awful ! " And she opened her blue eyes wide,
and looked like a tragic baby.
" But — my ! Peggy, how you did look that
night ! I wonder this whole room didn't turn
blue with fright. I was frightened almost to
death ; I wonder I'm alive to-day. Well,
ON SPY HILL. 243
wasn't it too perf'ly awful for anything, the
whole thing ? "
"It was pretty bad!" Peggy assented.
" But it's all over now, Viola ; I would try
not to dwell on it too much, if I were you.
Of course I know how you must miss Vivia,
and I'm dreadfully sorry about it all. But
just think how dear the Owls have been to
both of us."
"Haven't they?" cried Viola, drying her
tears, her eyes brightening. "Aren't they
too perfectly lovely for anything, the Owls ?
I think the Snowy is just the sweetest thing
that ever lived in this world, don't you ? '*
" I think she's one of them," said honest
Peggy. "But I'm just as fond of Bertha.
She was my first friend here, my very first."
" Oh, how funny you were that first day,
Peggy ! " cried Viola, laughing now, her sor-
rows forgotten for the time. "You were
too killing ! I thought I should have died,
when you went tumbling all over yourself.
You were killing, weren't you, now ? "
" You seem to have survived ! " said
Peggy, good-naturedly. It was not pleasant
to be laughed at, but no one ever minded
" Where are you going ? " demanded Viola,
as Peggy got out her " Tam " and pinned it
on with a resolute air. " Peggy, you are not
going out, just when I have come to see you ?
I was so lonely, and I wanted some one to
talk to ; and now the minute I come, you get
up and go away. I must say I don't think
you are very polite." And Viola pouted and
looked like a child of six instead of a girl of
" Viola ! " said Peggy. " You have been
here an hour and a half, do you know it ? and
I must have a walk; I haven't been outside
the door this afternoon. Put on your Tam
and come along with me ! You'd' feel ever so
much better if you would take more exer-
" Oh, no, I shouldn't ! and I cannot see
what you want to be walk, walking, all the
everlasting time for, Peggy Montfort. What's
the use of it ? "
"The use?" cried Peggy, with sparkling
eyes. " Why, there's all the use in the world.
ON SPY HILL. 245
In the first place, it makes you strong and
healthy, and keeps you well."
" Oh ! but gym does that ! We have to do
gym, and I don't mind that ; in fact it's rather
fun, only it spoils your figure dreadfully."
" But gym isn't enough, if you don't take
any other exercise," said Peggy. " And be-
sides, v., just think of the joy of walking and
running. Why, you see all the things grow-
ing, and breathe the air, and — and — hear the
birds, and the water, and — well, I shouldn't
want to live if I couldn't walk, that's all.
Come along, and you'll see ! "
" Oh, I can't, I'm too tired."
" You are tired, because you have been
sitting in the house all day. And you are
pale, and — "
" No ! am I ? " cried Viola, running to the
glass. " I'm so glad ! I just love to be pale,
it's so interesting. It makes my eyes look
larger, too, doesn't it, Peggy ? They do look
very large to-day, don't they, Peggy ? "
Peggy sighed. "You do discourage me,
Viola!" she said. "Well, good-bye. I must
go. The others are waiting for me."
" What others ? Who else is going ? What
are you going to do ? "
" Why, I told you! We are going to walk."
" Yes, but what for ? Are you going to the
shops, or going to see somebody ? I can't see
any sense in just stupid walking, without any
object. And you didn't tell me who was
" You didn't give me a chance. Well,
Rose Barclay is going, and two other fresh-
men whom I don't think you know, Clara
Fair and Ethel Bird — and Lobelia Parkins."
" Peggy Montfort ! why do you go with
that little animal ? I've told you before that
I could not, for the honour of the corridor,
have you seen with a creature that looks like
that. Let her go with Colney Hatch if she
wants company ; they'd be two of a kind."
" Colney Hatch is one of the brightest girls
in school. Miss Cortlandt says so ! "
" Very likely ; but that doesn't make her a
fit associate for you, my Veezy-vee. You
never seem to understand about different sets.
I want you to belong to the smart set, and
ON SPY HILL. 247
"Do the Owls belong to it?" demanded
Peggy, turning red.
" Peggy, how dense you are ! The Owls
don't belong to any set because they won't.
Of course they could belong to any set they
" Does Grace Wolfe belong to it ? "
"The Goat? Why, she used to ; but she's so
awfully queer, you know; the Goat has grown
too awfully queer for anything. She stays by
herself mostly, ever since she cut loose from
the Gang. And Vivia is gone," she wailed,
" and Blanche Haight, — Blanchey was not
very nice, but her gowns fitted like a ser-
aph's, and the style to her hats was too
perfectly killing for anything, you know it
was. And now there isn't any one, not a
single soul, that I care to talk to about
clothes. I've had my pink waist done over,
and it's simply dandy — the sweetest thing
you ever saw in your life ; and nobody cares.
I am so unhappy ! "
" I haven't seen that new hat you told me
about ! " said Peggy, with a happy stroke of
diplomacy. If any one had told Margaret
Montfort that her Peggy would ever develop
a talent for diplomacy she would have opened
her eyes wide indeed ; but one learns many
things at boarding-school.
Viola brightened at once.
" No ! didn't I? " she cried, her whole man-
ner changing. "Would you like to see it,
Peggy ? It is really too cute for anything, it
just is! What makes you shut up your
mouth that way ? ''
" Oh, nothing ! Well, yes, it is something.
You won't mind if I tell you ? Well, I used to
say ^cute,' and Margaret showed me what
bad English it was, and how silly it soimded.
So I made up my mind to stop it, and every
time I wanted to say it I screwed up my mouth
and counted ten. Just the same with ^ele-
gant.' I've broken myself of that, too, but it
was hard work."
" Elegant ! simply elegant ! " repeated Vi-
ola, thoughtfully. " The Goat won't let you
say that, either, or the Owls. What's the use
of being so fussy ? besides, elegant is a real
word, they can't say it isn't, so now ! "
"Oh! of course it is, and it has its real
ON SPY HILL. 249
use. You can speak of an elegant dress, or an
elegant carriage, and then it's all right ; but
I used to say I had had an elegant time, don't
you know ? and talk about elegant cake, and
all that kind of thing. And when once you
have learned better, it does sound awfully
" Well, they make just as much fuss about
^ awful,' and there you are saying that, and
you say it all the time."
" I know ! " said poor Peggy, hanging her
head. " I know I do, though I try awfully
hard not to. There ! that's the way it is. It
does seem as if I couldn't get over that, but
I'm going on trying. And if you don't get
your hat this minute, V., I shall go without
you. I can't wait any longer. It's awfully
— it's very late."
" Why, I'm coming, as fast as I can ; how
impatient you are, Peggy! You aren't half
as fond of me as I am of you, or you would
not be in such a hurry to get away to that
little fright. There, here it is ! Now isn't
that dandy, simply dandy ? I do think it is
too perf'ly sweet for anything ! "
It was a pretty hat, and Viola certainly
looked charming in it. She was so pleased
with her appearance that she could not resist
the temptation of " showing off " to the other
girls ; so she followed Peggy down to the
lawn, where a little group was already gath-
ered. At sight of a junior, even so unfor-
midable a junior as Viola Vincent, poor little
Lobelia Parkins shrank into a small knotted
heap of misery. Through Peggy's interces-
sion. Rose Barclay and the two other fresh-
men had been kind to her, and had agreed to
let her share their walks, which they took
now semi- weekly under Peggy's leadership.
None of them cared for her, or felt much
interest in her, but they did care for Peggy
Montf ort, partly because she was the strongest
girl in the class, partly because of the fame
that had accrued to her since her exploit in
resisting and breaking up the famous Gang ;
but mostly, perhaps, because everybody felt
and said that Peggy Montf ort was "all right,"
which in schoolgirl parlance meant that she
was a cheerful, kindly, and right-minded girl.
So, though her chief friends were still among
ON SPY HILL. 251
the juniors, she was well known and well
liked in her own class.
Peggy took Lobelia's hand, and drew it
resolutely through her arm.
" We'll lead the way ! " she cried. " Rose
and Viola, you two come next, and Clara and
Ethel bring up the rear. How's that ? "^
All agreed to the arrangement ; and the six
started off in high spirits.
" Where are we going to-day ? " asked Rose
Barclay, "Don't kill us, Peggy! I haven't
got over being stiff yet, from the last tramp.
It was jolly, though."
" It was splendid ! " chimed in Ethel Bird.
" Why, I had no idea what pretty places there
were about here. Shall we go to the woods
again ? "
" I thought of going up Spy Hill ! " said
Peggy. " It isn't very high, and there's a
lovely view from the top."
" Oh, I never can get as far as that ! " cried
Viola, aghast. " You said a little walk, Peggy,
and that is miles and miles, I know it is. Oh,
I think I'll go back."
"Oh, don't!" cried Rose, in a tone of heart-
felt interest that won Viola's susceptible heart.
" It isn't very far, truly it isn't ; and I want
to ask you where you got that hat. It is too
perfectly lovely for anything! I've got to
have a new hat, and I do wish — "
" My dear ! " cried Viola, dimpling all over
with pleasure, "I'll tell you all about it. You
see — "
There was no more trouble with Viola.
Peggy chuckled, and started off at a round
pace, the others following.
The two Owls, standing at their window
with arms intertwined, just thinking of taking
a little flutter in the cool of the afternoon,
looked after them with friendly eyes.
"What's the matter with Peggy Montfort?"
said the Fluffy to the Snowy.
" She's all right ! " said the Snowy to the
Fluffy. And then they looked at each other
sternly, and shook their heads in grave re-
buke. " My dear," they said both together,
" we are surprised ! "
WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH LOBELIA
" Lobelia, I insist upon knowing ! "
" Oh, Peggy, please don't ask me ! "
'' But I will ask you. I do ask you. What
is it that you are afraid of ? I shall find out
sooner or later, so you might as well give up
at once and tell me."
Lobelia looked around her uneasily. She
and Peggy were sitting in a cosy little hollow
under the lee of a great brown rock, waiting
for the others to come up.
" Come ! " said Peggy. " There's nobody
behind that rock. What is the matter with
you, Lobelia Parkins, and why don't you
sleep ? Out with it ! "
Lobelia sighed, and twisted her buttons.
"I — I never am a very good sleeper," she
said at last. "I — I'm nervous, Peggy. And
then — "
" And then, what ? "
" Oh, dear me ! I can't tell you. You
won't believe me if I tell you. Things come
into my room and frighten me."
^' Things ? What do you mean, Lobelia ? "
"I don't know what I mean!" cried the
poor girl, looking about her again, as if in
dread of some unseen terror. " I don't know
who it is, or what it is. Something — or
somebody — comes through my room at night
and goes out of the window."
" Ah ! " said Peggy. " Well, go on. How
long has this been going on ? "
" Oh, ever so long ! At first — Peggy, you
will feel badly if I tell you this."
"Well, then, I've got to feel badly," said
Peggy, stoutly. " Though I can't see what I
have to do with it — so far. I'll have plenty
to do with it from now on ! " she added, sig-
nificantly. " Go on, Lobelia."
"Well, you know that time you were so
good to me, Peggy ; when Blanche Haight and
those others were teasing me, and you came
in like a lioness and drove them off. I never
shall forget it as long as I live, Peggy, never ! "
WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 255
" Nonsense ! " said Peggy. " It wasn't any-
thing at all. Don't be absurd, Lobelia. Well,
what since then ? "
" It began after that. She — I know that
it used to be Blanche Haight then — she used
to come in after I was in bed, and frighten
me. She had a sheet on, and at first I
thought it was a ghost, and I fainted the first
time, I think ; and then she used — she used
to make faces and pinch me, and one time I
saw her ring, and so I knew who it was."
" The cowardly brute ! " muttered Peggy.
" It's wfeU for her that she's out of this school.
Now, Lobelia Parkins, why, in the name of
all that is feeble-minded and ridiculous, didn't
you tell me this before ? "
" Oh, I couldn't ! " said Lobelia. " I had
given you enough trouble, Peggy. And
besides — "
"Well! besides what ? "
" I was afraid ! I was afraid she would
kill me if I told."
" My goodness gracious me!'' cried Peggy,
bouncing on her mossy seat, till Lobelia shrank
away scared and trembling. " Do you think
we live in the Middle Ages, Lobelia Parkins ?
This is what comes of reading history; it
puts all those old-fangled notions into your
head, till you have no sense left. I know !
You had all that stuff about Florence and
Rome, and poisoning, and all that. I had it
too ; awful stuff, and probably two-thirds lies.
History is the father of lies, you know;
somebody says so somewhere."
"I — I thought it was Herodotus who was
called that," Lobelia ventured, timidly.
" Perhaps it was; it's all the same."
" No, I am wrong. Herodotus was called
the father of history, and then some other
people said he was the father of lies ; but now
it has all come true, so he isn't any more ! "
Lobelia, who was stupid and painstaking,
proffered this lucid explanation painfully, and
then gasped ; it seemed a liberty for her to
explain anything to anybody.
" Who cares ? " said Peggy. " He's dead,
anyhow. Oh, how it used to provoke my
dearest Margaret when I said that. I only
mean, I never see how it can matter so much
as people think. But you are not dead.
WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 257
Lobelia; and the idea of your being killed,
here in this school, in the nineteenth cen-
tury ! Why, it is absurd, don't you see ? It
is funny! You must laugh about it, my
Lobelia, with an effort, produced a watery
smile ; seeing which, Peggy's mood changed,
and she laid her hand instantly on the skinny,
" My dear, don't think I was laughing at
youj' she cried, warmly. " No ; I am going
to be furious in a minute, when I get round to
that part again. Well, but Lobelia, Blanche
Haight is gone now, and a good riddance, and
yet you say you are still afraid. What are
you afraid of?"
"I — I don't know who it is now!" said
Lobelia. " But some one comes through, just
" How do you mean, just the same ? some
one pinches you ? "
" No ! oh, no ! this person never speaks to
me or looks at me. It — she — only wants
to go through the window. It has something
light gray over its head and shoulders. It
goes down the fire-escape and stays about
half an hour, and then comes back. I — I
don't mind it so very much, now. I dare
say it's all right, only — I can't sleep very
well, you know."
" I see ! " said Peggy. " Well, I think we
can settle that matter, Lobelia. Hush ! here
come the others. We won't say anything
more about it now. Well, girls, how did it
go ? Isn't it a lovely little scramble ? "
Rose Barclay and Viola appeared, with the
other two just behind. Viola was panting,
and her delicate colour was deepened by
exertion till she was almost as rosy as her
" My dear ! " she cried. " You are respon-
sible for my life ! I am killed ; simply killed,
Peggy Montfort. I shall never recover from
this awful fatigue, I know I shall not."
" Nonsense ! " said Peggy, briefly. " Here !
sit down here, V., and get your breath ; you'll
be all right in a minute. It wasn't bad, was
it, Rose ? "
" It was a bit stiff in one place ! " Rose
admitted. "I rather think we took the
WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 259
wrong turn, Peggy. Did you say left, after
the big pine ? "
"No, right; you didn't come up that
bank ? Poor little V. ! no wonder she thinks
she is killed. Let me take your hat off, V.,
and get you some water or something."
But Viola refused to part with her hat.
She sat panting and crimson, and seemed
really exhausted. Peggy eyed her with re-
morse. "I couldn't know that you would
take the wrong turn, could I?" she said.
" I'm awfully sorry ! "
" Oh, but it was fine ! " said Ethel Bird.
"How do you find out all these places,
P^ggy ? This is just lovely, isn't it ? "
" By looking," said Peggy. " I like to
poke about, and I came on this the other day.
See, here's a little baby spring, trickling
right out of the rock here. Isn't it pretty?
and the water is clear and cold as ice. Shall
I make you a leaf-cup, Viola ? The best way,
though, is to put your mouth down and drink,
" Oh, I never would do that ! " cried Clara
Fair. "Why, a snake might go right down
your throat, Peggy Montf ort ; truly it might.
There was a man — "
" Oh, don't talk about a man ! " .cried Rose
Barclay. "How could you, Clara? You
remind me of my German lesson."
" I never said a word about your German
lesson," said Clara, who was literal and
"No, but you reminded me," said Rose,
who was imaginative and poetic. "All the
morning I was saying to myself:
" ' Der dickere Mann,
Des dickeren Mannes,
Dem dickeren Manne,
Den dickeren Mann.' "
"You seem to have learned it, anyhow,"
said Peggy, laughing.
" Oh, but that isn't all ! " said Rose.
"There is more horror. It goes on, you
" ' Die dickeren Manner,
Der dickeren Manner,
Den dickeren Mannern,
Die dickeren Manner.' "
WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 261
"I think foreign languages are the silli-
est things in the world ! " declared Peggy.
" Well, I do ! Such perfect foolishness as they
talk ! I have no patience with them/'
"Well, but Peggy, they aren't foreign
when they are at home ! " protested Ethel.
"Well, then, I wish they would stay at
home. I don't know whether German is so
bad, though that sounds awful, all that you
said just now, Rose ; but I have French ; and
I have to try to mince and simper, and twist
my mouth up into all kinds of shapes, just
saying things that are too silly to be said.
I wish there was a law that no one in this
country should ever speak anything but
English. It would be ever so much more
" So it would ! " assented Rose. " I say !
what a pity we didn't think to bring some-
thing to eat ! I'm awfully hungry, walking
all this way."
" All this way. Rose ! " said Peggy. " Why,
how far do you think it is ?
" Oh, four or five miles, I'm sure ! "
"Well, it isn't two. Look here, girls.
what is the reason none of you seem to know
how to walk ? "
" What do you mean ? We have walked,
haven't we? Here we are."
" Oh, you call this a walk ! that's just it, I
tell you. You walk a mile, or two at the
very most, and you think you have done
something wonderful; and poor Viola is all
tired out, and says she will never come again.
Well, but this isn't what / call walking, you
know. Why, I went with the Owls the other
day, and we walked fifteen miles if we did a
step, and it was perfectly glorious. TTiafs
what / call walking, and I do wonder how it
is that none of you ever learned. You are
all strong and well, aren't you?"
Yes, they were all strong and well; ex-
cept Viola, who still declared she had got her
death, and should never recover.
" Well, but what's the use ? " asked Rose.
" I think this is great fun, to come to a pretty
place like this, and sit and talk and look at
the view; but just to go on walking and
stalking along the way you and the Owls do,
— what's the use of it ? We are not ostriches.
WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 263
and why should we pretend we are ? Besides,
it takes such a lot of time."
" And what would you be doing with your
time ? " asked Peggy, hotly. " Reading
stories, or just sitting, sitting, and talking,
talking. My goodness gracious me ! the
way some of the girls just sit around all
their spare tinje, doing nothing, makes me
tired. Why, if I hadn't stalked, as you call
it, how would you have come here to-day,
and seen the prettiest place you ever saw
since you came here — for it is, and you can't
deny it, girls. I do hate to see people doing
nothing. I don't much care what they do,
so long as it is something ! "
" Peggy, you're getting very ferocious, do
you know it ? " said Clara Fair. " And, after
all, we did come, and now we are doing just
as much as you are, and why are you shout-
ing at us ? "
" I won't shout any more," said Peggy,
laughing. " I suppose we all have our hob-
bies, haven't we ? Walking is one of mine ;
and you are going to like it just as much as I
do, girls, before we get through the term.
Why, there are about twenty of the loveliest
walks, and none of them — hallo ! "
Peggy stopped abruptly, and seemed to
"What's the matter?" asked Rose. "I
didn't hear anything. "
"I thought I did," said Peggy, quietly.
" Be still a minute, will you ? "
She bent her head. There was a moment
of perfect silence ; then, somewhere close at
hand, a singular dry, rattling sound.
" What a queer noise ! " said Ethel. " What
is it ? "
" It's time to go home, girls ! " said Peggy.
" You'd better start along, and I'll come be-
hind you. Come, Viola, give me your hand
— so ! Now take her. Rose, and hurry along !
Lobelia, go with them, will you ? "
" What upon earth is the matter, Peggy
Montfort ? " asked Rose, eyeing her curiously.
" What do you want to get us out of the way
for? I believe you have found something,
and want to keep it to yourself."
" Rose, please go ! " said Peggy, earnestly.
" I am coming, I tell you. No, not there !
WHAT WAS THE MATTER? 265
that way — along by the big pine. Keep
away from the rock — so ! Now hurry, and
I'm coming right along."
The girls hardly knew why they obeyed;
but there was such a singular earnestness in
Peggy's look and gesture that they did not
stay to question her, but one and all — or so
it seemed — turned and hastened down the
side of the hill.
No sooner were their backs turned than
Peggy, whose keen eyes had been fixed all
this time on one spot, moved swiftly behind
a great rock that stood clpse by. There,
stooping, she sought with eager hands and
eyes; sought and found a stout stick. She
tried its strength — it was strong and tough.
Then warily she came back, and looked once
more at the pile of withered leaves that had
riveted her attention before. The pile seemed
to move — to undulate ; and from it came
once more the dry, rattling sound. Some-
thing reared itself, brown and slender ; at the
same instant a shriek rang through the wood.
It did not come from Peggy's lips. Like a
flash, the girl had sprung forward, and caught
the snake's neck under her crotched stick, just
as he was raising himself to strike. Pinned
firmly to the earth, the creature could only
twist and wriggle in impotent rage. Looking
around coolly, Peggy saw Lobelia's face peer-
ing around the trunk of a tree, pale with
" Well ! " said Peggy. " You are a nice
obedient child, aren't you? Since you are
there, you might get me a good stone ; he's
all right ; he can't get his head round."
Gasping and trembling, Lobelia found and
brought a stone, which she held out at arm's
" Oh, Peggy ! " she whispered. " Is it —
is it a rattlesnake ? "
" That's what ! " said Peggy, relapsing into
slang in the absorption of the moment. " He
won't be a rattlesnake much longer, though.
There ! now you can look, Lobelia ; he's dead.
I tell you he's dead, as dead as Julius Caesar.
What are you crying for, child? "
Lobelia came forward, trembling and cring-
" Oh, Peggy, I knew it was. I didn't say
WHAT WAS THE MATTER ? 267
anything, because I thought you wouldn't
want me to — "
" Quite right/' said Peggy. " Sensible
rabbit ! "
" And — and I am terribly afraid of snakes
— oh, I was sure you would be killed,
Peggy ! "
" And so you came back to be killed with
me? Lobelia, what a foolish girl you are.
There, there, don't cry. Why, the snake isn't
crying, and he really has been killed."
" Oh, Peggy, if you had been killed, I
should have died. I shouldn't have needed
any snake to kill me."
"Nonsense!" said Peggy, gruffly. "Lo-
belia, do stop crying. My goodness gracious
mCj come along, or we shall have them all
back again after us. I'm going to bring him
too, and get Colney to dry him for me. He's
a beauty ! look at him. Lobelia ! Not look
at him ? Why, I tell you he's dead, as dead
as — who was he ? — the Father of Lies !
Come along, now."
THE TERROR BY NIGHT.
All was quiet in No. 18, Corridor C. It
was the room directly above Peggy ; and was
tenanted, as we have seen, by Lobelia Par-
kins. Lobelia was in bed at this moment,
though it was before the usual bedtime. She
had felt ill and dizzy-brained for several days,
and Peggy had begged her to go to bed early
and get a good long sleep. Peggy herself lay
on a mattress on the floor. It was against
the rule, but for once the law-abiding Peggy
was wilfully breaking the rule. She felt strong
in Miss Russell's confidence in her; and she
meant to find out who and what it was that
was " frightening Lobelia silly," as she ex-
pressed it. Accordingly, here she was, in her
wrapper, with a blanket rolled around her.
The night was warm, and the window was
thrown wide open, Peggy having been brought
THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 269
up to love fresh air. Lobelia shivered, but
would rather have frozen stiff than say a
word, if Peggy preferred to have the room
cold. Each girl hoped the other was asleep.
Lobelia hardly dared to breathe ; she lay still
as a mouse, feeling a delightful sense of com-
fort and security, such as she had not felt since
she came to this nightmare of a place. Not
to be alone any more, with the night and the
terrible things it brought; to have this
friend, so strong, so kind, so helpful, lying
close beside the bed, ready to help, to com-
fort, — Lobelia's poor shrinking spirit took
courage, and she held her breath now and
then, for the pure pleasure of hearing Peggy's
calm, regular breathing. Surely she must be
asleep ! She could not breathe like that unless
she were sleeping quietly. Oh, might nothing
happen to break her friend's rest !
Peggy was very nearly asleep, it was true.
She had meant to stay awake as long as there
was any possibility of any one's coming into
the room. She was valiantly wide awake at
first, and lay blinking at the moon, which
was shining in the most obliging manner full
upon the spot where she lay. Peggy won-
dered what those mountains were like which
made the strange figures on the broad, silver
disk. They must be tremendous! Think of
them, miles high, with deep, awful valleys
between, and all dead and white and dry like
bone. And all they seemed to be good for
now was for us to make faces and things out
of, and stories — to please — the — children.
Peggy was getting very sleepy. She opened
her eyes wider, and stared harder at the
moon. It seemed to be staring back. They
were certainly eyes, not — mountains — and
one of them was winking at her; and now
she seemed to hear a sound, a voice, com-
ing from far, far — ages away, and saying,
Then, all in a moment, sleep, and the moon
and its mountains were as if they had never
The door opened, swiftly and noiselessly,
and some one darted in, — a tall, slender fig-
ure, with gray drapery over the head and
shoulders. It turned and halted, facing the
door. Peggy sprang up in bull-dog silence,
THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 271
and was about to fling herself bodily on the
intruder ; but an arm thrown out, a familiar
gesture, a whispered word, checked her, and
she stood motionless, hardly drawing breath.
Next moment footsteps were heard in the
corridor, as of some one hastening, and mak-
ing every effort to be silent. The door was
pushed hastily open, and Miss Pugsley stood
on the threshold. She was panting, and her
dress was disarranged.
" Ah ! " she cried, in a spiteful whisper.
" I have caught you at last, have I ? I know
you, miss ! No need to hide your face ! I
know you well enough, and this is the end
of your fine doings. Lift up that veil, I
command you ! "
The gray figure advanced toward her one
step, and lifted the veil; and even Peggy's
stout heart turned to water within her. Miss
Pugsley recoiled with a wild shriek from the
waxen countenance, the hollow burning eyes,
the fleshless, grinning lips; recoiled, stag-
gered, and fled back moaning along the
corridor. The gray figure dropped its veil
and darted in pursuit. Peggy, running to
the door, saw them vanish around the comer ;
then she returned, to find Lobelia fallen into
a dead faint, her head hanging over the side
of the bed.
As she bent over her anxiously, rubbing
her hands and trying to rouse her, a single
board creaked in the corridor ; next moment
the gray figure entered again, this time
quietly and without hurry. The veil was
thrown back, revealing a well-known face.
The hideous death's head was now carried in
" Sorry if I alarmed you, Innocent ! " said
Grace Wolfe. " What in the name of un-
reason are you doing here?"
" Oh, Grace, she has fainted ! " cried Peggy.
" Help me ! Bring some water, do ! ''
Grace vanished again, and was back in two
minutes with water and smelling-salts. As
they bent over the unconscious girl, bathing
her temples and holding the salts to her nose,
a few hurried sentences were exchanged.
" What was it ? What have you there,
" Oh, nothing ; merely Colney's skull ; not
THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 273
her own, you understand, but that of her
" But — but the eyes glared ! I saw them
glare, like fire."
"Phosphorus, my sweet babe! Hast no
chemistry to thy name? 'Twere well to
mend thy ways."
" And why — what were you doing, Grace ?
Oh, see what you have done ! Look at this
poor child, and tell me why you came to play
such pranks in her room."
Peggy's voice was stern enough. She for-
got her love and admiration for Grace; she
only saw what seemed like wanton cruelty
toward a forlorn and helpless creature, and
her blood was up.
Grace shrugged her shoulders.
" I am sorry," she said. " I am even very
sorry. Innocent. What more would you
have ? I didn't mean to come in ; indeed, I
had no thought of the little creature at alL
I had a vow that the next time that woman
looked through my keyhole she should repent
it. I think she did. If she does it again, I'll
shoot her; I've just told her so."
^'Why — how did you know? What did
she do ? "
" Oh, child, I can't always tell you how I
know things. I feel them in my bones. This
is full moon, and it was borne in upon me that
she thought I would be up to something to-
night, and would be upon the watch; so I
went on the watch, too. I arranged a pretty
scene of confusion in my room, open window,
things all thrown about, — just as it would
look if I had been having a lark; left the
light burning, went and borrowed this soulful
smiler, and treated it a little, — no, Colney
knows nothing about it ; no use in getting her
into trouble ; then I took my mosquito-netting
mantle, and hid in the broom-closet near my
door. Sure enough, I hadn't been there long
when along comes my Puggy, in felt slippers,
and looks in at my keyhole. I waited, to
make sure, then I came gliding past, without
observing her, you see, corridor being pretty
dark. She observed me, however, and pur-
sued. I led her quite a pretty dance, till I
thought her breath would be getting short,
and then I turned in here, partly because it
THE TERROR BY KIGHT. 275
was handy, partly because — well, I have
been in the habit of passing through here,
when the kid was asleep. See ! she's opening
her eyes. Speak to her, you ! She's more
used to you."
Peggy lifted Lobelia's head into her lap.
" How are you now, dear ? " she asked, strok-
ing the thin hair affectionately. " Lobelia,
it's Peggy! You are all right; there's no
one here, no one to hurt you. That — that
was only a trick. Lobelia."
Lobelia moaned, but made no reply. Grace
leaned forward. " Peggy is right," she said,
softly. "It was a trick. Lobelia, and not
meant for you at all. I — I never thought
about you, I'm afraid. Do you feel better
now ? I'm truly sorry, my dear."
There was no answering look of intelligence
in Lobelia's face. She lay shivering, with
wide, frightened eyes.
" Oh, Grace, I'm afraid she's ill ! " said
Peggy- "See! she doesn't seem to know us.
What shall we do ? Lobelia ! Do look at me !
Do speak to me ! Oh, Grace, what shall we
do ? Where are you going ? "
"I am going to call Miss Russell," said
Miss Russell came presently, and looked
very grave when she saw Lobelia's face, which
was now flushed with fever, her eyes still
staring wide, as if they saw some dreadful
"What has happened?" she said, briefly.
" I must have the truth ! "
Grace told her the truth, every word, not
keeping back anything: merely adding that
Peggy had nothing to do with it all.
" And what were you doing here, Peggy ? "
asked Miss Russell.
Peggy explained. " I meant to tell what-
ever I found out, to-morrow. Miss Russell,"
she added. " I thought you would want me
to discover what — what had been going on."
Miss Russell nodded. " Go to your rooms
now, girls," was all she said. "Or — no;
Peggy, ask Miss Cortlandt to send at once for
Doctor Hendon. Grace, you will remain in
your room till I come to you."
Grace tried to rise in obedience ; but the
sick girl grasped her dress, and held it tight.
THE TERROR BY NIGHT. 277
" Don't leave me/' she said, in a hardly au-
" You don't want me, you poor thing ! "
said Grace; and though she spoke low, her
tone was very bitter. " Let me go, and you
shall never see me again. Don't trouble
about me. Miss Russell. I'll pack my trunk,
and be off in the morning before any one is
" You will do as I tell you," said Miss Rus-
sell, quietly. " Peggy, go quickly ! Now,
my poor child, let me take your hand. Move
softly, Grace, and I think you can slip away."
Grace tried once more to loosen the hold of
the cramped, skinny hand, but Lobelia only
clutched the tighter; and now, in her de-
lirium, she caught Grace's hand with her
other one, and held it tight, tight. "Don't
leave me ! " she muttered. " Peggy, Peggy,
don't leave me ! "
Upon this, Grace looked up at Miss Russell ;
the hard, defiant look was gone, the wild blue
eyes were swimming in tears. " Let me stay,"
she murmured. "Miss Russell, let me stay
with her. I'll go away after she gets well.
She thinks I am Peggy, and you know I am a
good nurse. Let me stay and take care of
her, and I will bless you all my life, even if I
never see you again."
" You shall stay," said Miss Russell. " My
poor Grace, this may be the hardest and heavi-
est punishment I could give you. You shall
stay, and see what your cruel and wilful care-
lessness has brought to pass. God help us
and you ! "
In the dreadful days that followed, Grace
Wolfe hardly left the sick girl's side. The
doctor came, and pronounced the trouble a
brain fever, brought on by fear and worry.
A trained nurse came and took charge.
Lobelia submitted to her care, but her one
conscious instinct was that of clinging to
Grace. Whether, as seemed most probable,
she took her for Peggy, or whether she sim-
ply felt and craved the magnetism of the
wild girl's touch and presence, they could not
tell; but she was never quiet save when
Grace's hand was resting on her. Her aunt
came, her sole living relative ; and seeing
her, poor Lobelia was explained. Prim,
fussy, and forbidding, her rich dress showing
the same utter tastelessness that marked that
of her niece. Miss Parkins was not the
woman one would have chosen to be the
mother of a gh-1 like Lobelia. She looked at
the sick girl, and said it was very unfortu-
nate ; she was always having illnesses, and
had given them no end of anxiety.
" She has had everything that money could
buy ! " she said, over and over. " It has
never seemed to make any difference; her
mother was the same sort of person, unrea-
sonable, always wanting what she couldn't
have. My brother had a great deal of trou-
ble with her, and Lobelia is like her. I have
tried to do my duty by her. Do you think
she will get well, doctor ? "
"Yes, I do think she will get well!"
replied Doctor Hendon, glaring at her in a
way that made Miss Russell feel alarm for her
safety. "I think she will get well if she
stays here, and has care and tenderness and
sympathetic treatment. You are her sister ? "
He turned upon Grace, who sat beside the bed,
passing her light hand over the sick girl's
forehead with smooth, regular strokes.
"No," said Miss Russell. "This is one
of the pupils. Miss Wolfe. She — was in the
room when this attack came on, and Lobelia
has clung to her from the first in a sin-
gular manner. I did not dare to remove
her, and so, as you see, she has simply
stayed here, helping the nurse."
" I see ! " said the doctor. " I suppose
she was — hum! stay close by her!" this
was to Grace. " You have a touch, I see.
Probably you have been kind to her, — poor,
forlorn, miserable little creature as ever I saw
in my life ! " The last words were hurried out
as if they were one, in a gruff, not to say
Grace looked up at him. " I am the cause
of her illness," she said, quietly. . " I have
never been kind to her, or taken any notice
of her. I have come through her room,
using it for a passage when I was breaking
bounds, and have frightened her — to death."
The doctor looked at her under his bushy
eyebrows. " That may all be so ! " he said.
" All the same, you may now have the chance
of saving her life. Stay by her, that's all I
have to say to you."
"And what have you to say to me, doc-
tor?" asked Miss Parkins. "I have a great
responsibility. Lobelia will inherit a large
fortune if she. lives. She has had everything
that money — "
'' You can go home ! " said Doctor Hendon,
with a sudden movement suggestive of biting.
" Go home, and stay there — I — mean, have
things ready for her when she i^ ready for a
change. Good morning ! Ya-ouw ! " this last
was a manner of snarl with which he fa-
voured Miss Parkins as he trotted out of the
room. The lady stared after him. " Is he a
little touched ? " she asked. " He doesn't
seem quite sane."
Miss Russell assured her that Doctor Hen-
don was eminently sane, and got her out of
the room as soon as possible.
Grace remained, and hour by hour kept
her watch at the sick girl's pillow, laying her
magic touch on the burning brow, singing the
soft songs that seemed more than anything
else to soothe the sufferer. So sitting, hour
by hour, day after day, the old life seemed to
slip away from Grace Wolfe. She felt it
going, felt the change coming on spirit and
thought, but made no effort to hinder the
change. All the restlessness, the wild long-
ing for freedom, the beating her head against
the friendly bars, — where was it now ? She
was content to sit here, watching with the
nurse the changes that came over the face of
their patient. They talked together in low
voices which soothed rather than disturbed ;
one asking, the other relating, the woman
of experience and the eager girl exchanged
thoughts and confidences. Many times in
the day the girls came to the door, Peggy
and the Owls, and now and then an anxious,
frightened freshman. Peggy had longed to
assist in the nursing, but she had too heavy
a hand, and hers was not the gift. Ger-
trude Merr3rweather had it, and she some-
times took Grace's place, and sent her down
for a breath of fresh air and a run with
Bertha or Peggy on the lawn. Grace went
obediently, for she knew she must keep up
her strength ; but she was always back again
at the first possible instant, and her thoughts
never seemed to go with her, but stayed at
"My dear," said Miss Russell once, "I
cannot let you wear yourself out. Let Ger-
trude watch to-night while Miss Carter rests!"
But Grace only said, " I'd give my life if I
could, Miss Russell. She's going to get well
Lf my life can do it ! " and Miss Russell, look-
ing into the blue eyes and meeting the spirit
of resolution that shone there, could only kiss
the girl's cheek and pass on.
Lobelia was very Ul, and a shadow hung
over the whole school. Lessons went on as
usual, but the girls spoke low in their recita-
tions, and there was an unconscious hurry in
both teachers and pupils^ all anxious to get
through, to ask and hear the last tidings from
the sickroom. In those days, too, teachers
and pupils learned to know each other as
never before. The grave women who cared so
much — so strangely much, it often seemed —
whether a lesson were well or ill learned, who
made such a fuss about trifles, and set such
hard tasks, and made such unreasonable
rules, behold ! they were just as anxious and
troubled as if Lobelia had been one of their
own number, instead of the most insignificant
freshman in the whole school. Miss Boyle
was not simply a mathematical machine, Rose
Barclay found out. She really cared about
them, cared enough to call them into her
room, and want to hear all about that last
walk, when Peggy had killed the rattlesnake,
— oh, how brave Peggy had been, — and how
poor Lobelia had seen it, too, and with her
inborn terror of snakes had perhaps got the
first panic that, after brooding and brooding,
and being added to the terror by night, had
ended in this.
Miss Pugsley was gone. Her departure
had hardly been noticed, was well-nigh for-
gotten by this time ; but Colney Hatch found
Miss Mink sniffing mouse-like sniffs in a
corner, and wept with her, and offered her a
live bat that she had just caught, by way of
consolation. But their tears were for Grace,
for they hardly knew Lobelia save by sight.
As for Miss Russell and Emily Cortlandt,
they were the life and stay of the school in
these days. Steadfast and cheerful, always
hopeful, bringing forward every favourable
symptom and sharing it with the whole
school ; not a girl of all the seventy-odd who
did not feel their sympathy and friendship
like strong hands ready to take theirs and
One day, when things were at the worst,
Peggy found Viola in her room, crying on the
" What is the matter ? " she asked, rather
briefly. Viola's troubles seemed microscopic
in this time of heart-wringing anxiety.
Viola raised her head, and her eyes were
red with weeping.
" They say she's going to die, Peggy ! "
" Nonsense ! " said Peggy, gruffly. " Who
says so ? "
" Oh, all the girls. They say Doctor Hendon
shook his head when he went out this morn-
ing ; you know that's a very bad sign. Oh,
Peggy, I wish I had been good to the poor
little thing. You have always been good to
her. I don't believe you suffered as much
as I did from her clothes, but I wish I had
been good to her all the same. Peggy, if
she gets well, I'm going to do over her hats
for her, and try to make her look different.
Peggy, where are you going ? Don't leave
me ! Lobelia is going to die, and I feel so
" I don't believe she is going to die," said
Peggy. "I am going to the study to see
Miss Russell ; come with me if you like,
Viola crept along beside her, cowering in
Peggy's shadow as they passed the door of
the sick-room. Peggy paused to listen.
Prom within came the sound of soft singing,
and the faint rustle of a wood fire. What
was Grace singing ? one of the quaint French
songs that she loved, —
" Trois anges sont venus ce soir,
M'apportaient de bien belles choses ;
L'un d'eux avaient un encensoir,
Le deuxieme un chapelet de roses.
Et le troisierae avait en main
Une robe toute fleurie,
De perles, d'or et de jasmin,
Comme en a Madame Marie.
Noel ! Noel !
Nous venons du ciel,
T'apporter ce que tu desires;
Car le bon Dieu,
Au fond du ciel bleu,
A chagrin lorsque tu soupires !
The two girls crept softly past, Viola
wiping the tears from her eyes. They went
down to the study, and, knocking gently,
were bidden to enter. Miss Russell and Miss
Cortlandt were sitting together, and at their
feet sat the Snowy and the Fluffy Owls,
curled up on two hassocks. Peggy looked in
" Come in, Peggy ! " said Miss Russell's
cheerful voice. " Who is that with you ? Oh,
Viola ? come in, my dear ! Do you want any-
thing ? "
"No, Miss Russell," said Peggy. "I — I
just wanted to come in, that was all."
" So did we ! " said the Fluffy. " We just
came, and we feel so much better. Sit down
She patted the floor beside her, and Peggy
and Viola sat down. Peggy heaved a sigh of
relief. " I thought you would let us come,"
she said. " It's so dreadful not to be able to
do anything, isn't it. Miss Russell ? K we
could help in any way, or feel that we were
doing anything at all, it wouldn't be so bad.
I came by the door just now, and Grace was
singing, and it all sounded so quiet and peace-
ful. You think it is all going well, don't you.
Miss Russell ? You don't think she is worse
to-day, do you. Miss Russell ? "
Miss Russell put back Peggy's hair, which
had fallen into her eyes as she looked up
eagerly. "Dear," she said, "I was just tell-
ing Gertrude and Bertha how it is. Doctor
Hendon thinks there will be a change to-day ;
he thinks the crisis is coming. It is a time
of great danger, but he has good hope, and
we must have it, too. And, girls, you are all
longing to help ; now, you can help us to-day.
You can help very much indeed. The house
must be kept absolutely quiet this afternoon.
The girls are in their rooms now ; but if you
could get them off for a walk, some of them,
and send the rest to the gymnasium, you
would be doing us all a service. Miss Cort-
landt is going to the gymnasium, and she
will give them a drill, or let them dance, if
they like — you don't think they feel like
dancing? No more do I! I shall not leave
Lobelia's room myself till the change comes ;
I am going back there now, as soon as the
doctor comes. Ah ! there he is now ! Re-
member, dear girls, quiet; and for the rest,
hope and patience — and trust ! "
She kissed them each in turn, quietly and
gravely, and was gone. Turning to Emily
Cortlandt, they saw that her eyes were full
of tears ; yet she spoke cheerfully. " Miss
Russell is so wise, girls ! " she said. " I am
sure you will do all you can — it is an anx-
ious time. One thing she forgot to say, — I
wouldn't let the other girls know, if you can
help it, how grave the danger is. Some of
them are nervous, and might have hysterics,
or even be ill. Viola, my child, you look
very pale. Don't you feel well ? "
Viola was trembling all over. She came
close to Miss Cortlandt and nestled up to
her like a little child. " I'm afraid ! " she
said, simply. " I nev6r was near where any-
body died. I'm dreadfully afraid. Miss Cort-
Very gently Emily Cortlandt spoke then
to the frightened child, and to the other three
girls, whose strong, sensible faces were grave
enough, but who were able to possess them-
selves in courage and quiet. She told them
some of her thoughts, the thoughts of a
gentle Christian woman; of the hope and
love and promise that made death seem to her
only the white door that led into life, a life
toward which we must all look, and for
which we must shape ourselves as we pass
through this world of joy and sorrow. She
told them of young lives which had seemed
cruelly cut off here; and of how it was her
thought that death had been to them not the
end, but the beginning; and of the lovely
light they had shed behind them, of gentle-
ness and hope and love. Then she spoke
more brightly, and told them how strong,
after all, life was in the young, and how one
could always hope, while even a spark re-
mained. Doctor Hendon had good hope, she
repeated, and they must have it, too.
" And now," she said, " I must go, and you
must go, too. Find the girls quietly, and
bring them to me, or take them out for one
of your good walks ; and let us, whatever we
do, do it cheerfully ! "
Faithfully the Owls and Peggy laboured,
that November afternoon. First they soothed
and comforted Viola, finishing the good work
that Miss Cortlandt had begun; •and they
induced her to go to the gymnasium and take
a party with her. Then they went about
softly from door to door through the cor-
ridors, not spreading any alarm, merely say-
ing that Miss Russell thought they would
all better go out, as the afternoon was so
fine, and that they were to go quietly, as
Lobelia might be asleep. Before long, with-
out noise or confusion, the whole school was
out, either in the gymnasium or on the road.
The walkers divided into three parties,
Peggy leading the freshmen, Gertrude the
juniors, while Bertha marshalled the sopho-
mores, who came like lambs, half proud, half
shy, at being under the leadership of the re-
nowned Fluffy. The seniors, of course, could
be trusted to take care of themselves. They
were a small class, and somehow — as hap-
pens in every school with one class and
another — had never made themselves a
power; they had gone now with the rest
to the gymnasium.
Peggy, as she walked at the head of her
troop, tried to feel her cousin Margaret's
hand in hers. Always humble, and distrust-
ful of her own powers, she tried hard to think
what Margaret would do in her place. She
would tell stories, probably, wonderful stories
of heroes and great deeds. Ah ! but Peggy
did not know the stories in the books; they
never stayed by her. Well, then, she must
tell what she did know! She found herself
talking about her home life, the home on the
great Western ranch; of her father and
brothers, and the many feats in their strong,
active life. Here, if she had only known it,
were stories better than any in Margaret's
books. How Brother Jim hunted the white
wolf for three days in the mountains; how
Hugh set the trap for the young grizzly, and
more wonderful, how he tamed him and made
him his friend and servant; how Father
Montfort saved the three men who were
snowed up in Desolation Gulch, and brought
them oyt one by one on his shoulders, just as
their last biscuit was gone and they had sat
down to die, — on and on went the tale, for it
was a story without an end. On and on
went the girls, too, unconscious of their
going, forgetting to think they were tired,
forgetting everything save the joy of listen-
ing. The shadows were lengthening fast
when Peggy, still relating, turned her face
homeward, wondering with thankfuhiess, a^
she noted the position of the sim, how she
had been able to take them so far without
once hearing a groan or a sigh of weariness.
She looked around, and saw only sparkling
eyes and rosy cheeks. " A month ago," she
thought, " they would have said I had almost
killed them. They really are hardening, and
Tm so glad ! "
" Oh, go on, Peggy ! " cried Rose Barclay.
" You are never going to stop there ! What
became of the one with the wooden leg?
We must know ! '*
On went the story, and on went the girls ;
the sun sank lower and lower, the shadows
crept longer and longer, the air grew cool and
thin with the coming night. The man with
the wooden leg had chopped it up for fuel,
and Father Montfort had brought him and all
•the others in triumph to the ranch, and set
them down by the fire, when — " Oh, dear
me ! " cried Ethel Fair. " What a shame,
girls ! Here we are at the gate. I say ! let's
go on a little farther, Peggy."
But Peggy was wise, and knew when to
stop; besides, now that she was near the
house again, the anxiety and distress that had
been lulled by the walk and the story-telling,
came back like a flood, and filled her heart.
They were crossing the lawn; what tidings
would greet them at the door ? Some one was
standing there now ; Miss Cortlandt, was it ?
no. Miss Russell herself. She was waiting for
them with the news ; would it be good or
bad ? Peggy hung back for an instant ; then
she walked steadily forward. " Quiet, girls ! "
was all she said. " I think Miss Russell has
something to tell us."
They were at the foot of the steps now;
and Miss Russell was coming down to meet
them, running, the grave and stately woman,
to meet them, like a girl. Her hands were
outstretched, her face was all aglow with joy,
the glad tears ran down her cheeks.
" It is over ! " she whispered. " Softly, my
dear children. Come softly in. The crisis is
over, and the child will live. Come with me,
and let us thank God together ! "
THE END AND THE BEGINNING.
It was a month later. The first snow had
fallen, and the lawn was white with it, and
all the trees and bushes powdered with frost.
Coming out of the class-room one day, her
heart singing of sines and cosines and tan-
gents, Peggy found the Snowy and the Fluffy
waiting for her at the door, with radiant
" Oh, what ? " cried Peggy. " A letter ? ''
" Yes," said Gertrude. " It has just come,
though the postmark is two or three days ago.
Where shall we go to read it ? Your room,
Peggy? So we will; it's nearer than the
Nest, and I know you can't wait."
Grace's letters were indeed things to wait
for in those days. She had gone to Lobelia's
home with her ; for, on coming to herself^ the
invalid had stOl citing to her new friend, with
a persistency strange in one so timid and fear-
ful. Convalescence came, with its unwilling
fretfulness, its fits of unreason. Still Lobelia
clung to Grace, and no one else could make
her listen and obey. The nurse laughed, and
said she might as well go, and leave her di-
ploma with Miss Wolfe; yet stayed, for the
two worked together in pleasant harmony and
friendship. At last. Doctor Hendon ordered
a change of scene, and now, too, Grace must
go with her. The Parkins mansion was
within driving distance of Pentland; the
whole school had turned out to see the de-
parture, the sick girl lying on cushions, her
thin face already showing the signs of re-
turning health, and really transfigured by the
light of love and gratitude that beamed from
it, as she looked from Grace to Peggy, and
back again to Grace. She beckoned to Peggy,
who pressed to her side and bent over her.
" What is it, dear ? " she whispered.
" Peggy ! ''
" Yes, Lobelia."
THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 299
" Peggy, you don't mind ? "
" Mind what ? I don't mind anything, now
that you are getting well."
" You — you were my first friend, the only
friend I had. You don't mind — that I love
her? I couldn't help it, Peggy. She kept
me alive, you see. Often and often, when I
was drifting away, and ready to die, she held
me, and would not let me go. You are sure
you don't mind, Peggy ?"
Peggy kissed her heartily, and told her not
to talk nonsense. " If you didn't love her,"
she said, " I'd have nothing to do with you.
Lobelia Parkins. Do you hear that ? Noth-
ing ! I wouldn't speak to you in the street,
if I met you."
Lobelia smiled, and leaned back on the
cushions with closed eyes and a look of abso-
lute content. " You are so funny, Peggy ! "
she murmured. " She is funny, too. I like
people who are funny. Good-bye, and thank
everybody. Everybody is so kind ! "
The carriage drove away, and the last thing
the girls saw was Grace's face, looking down
at her charge ; grave as ever, — Grace rarely
smiled, and they hardly knew the sound of
her laugh, — but bright as Lobelia's own with
love and purpose and gladness. So they
passed out of sight.
And since then had come letters every week,
telling of the child's progress; one to Miss
Russell always, and one to the Owls or to
Peggy. It was one of these that Gertrude
took from her pocket now and opened, as they
sat together on Peggy's divan.
" You see, it is dated three days ago ; prob-
ably been carried in a pocket, from the look
" Dear Snowy, also Fluffy : — Tu whit ! She
has been gaining so fast this week, we shall soon for-
get she has been ill at all. She can eat anything she
likes, and she likes a great deal. Miss P. keeps ex-
claiming at her appetite. Apparently the child never
ate anything before she went to school. The rule of
the house is, or was, one shredded wheat Abomination
for breakfast, one chop for dinner, one smoked her-
ring for supper. All this served on huge and hideous
silver dishes. This order is changed. Miss Parkins
almost fainted when I ordered the first meal. She
weeps every day over the butcher's book, but the
child fattens apace, and all is well. I had to frighten
THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 301
her — the aunt — a little, though, before things went
" Yesterday we explored the house, the Babe and
I. The amazing thing is that she lived at all after
she got her eyes open. Apparently every article cost
a thousand dollars ; most awful old mausoleum you
can imagine ; you never saw such a place, for there
couldn't be two. The bed I sleep in has all-round
curtains of apple-green plush, with bead fringe three
inches deep. The mantelpiece and table-top and so
on are gray marble, and the ornaments are two
deformed gilt cherubs holding a slop-jar with a
clock-face in the middle of it. Also two unspeak-
able alabaster jugs, three feet high, and two Parian
busts under glass cases. They are supposed to be
Luther and Melanchthon ; I think they are Lucifer
And Mammon. Well, the poor little thing is used to
it, and does't know what is the matter. Wait till
Monday week, — I mean till some future day, — and
she shall know, but not now. She doesn't think it
a homelike house, she says !
" I shall be coming back almost any time now, as
soon as I can get away. It's dreadful to leave her,
— ' I'm wae to think upo' yon den, e'en for her sake,'
— but I must get back before exams, and she is really
all right, only not of course wholly strong yet. She
will come back next term ; and meanwhile she is to
travel with an old servant who was her nurse, and
who has some spark of humanity in her composition.
" I'm coming back, I tell you ; at least, something
is coming back. I don't say whether it will be the
Goat or the Wolf, or what ; I'm pretty sure that —
" * Lawk a mercy on me,
This is none of I ! '
" Good-bye, you feathered things ! How do feathers
feel ? How do you get about ? There are good points
about the creature, I can see that ; you can see in the
dark — but so could the Wolf ! and it would be nice to
be able to ruffle up your feathers and put a tongue
in every wound of Puggy's — but she is gone, isn't
she ? Alas I and if you don't know Shakespeare when
I talk him, why, you are an ignorant set, and don't
deserve your names. This is for the Innocent, too,
mind ! Give her my love, and tell her — never mind ;
I'll tell her myself.
" So no more at jiresent. Respected Fowls, from
your most obedient, humble servant,
The three girls were silent for a moment
after Gertrude had folded the letter again.
Then, ^^Do you suppose she will really be
changed?" asked Peggy. "I — I don't think
I want Grace to be changed, do you, girls ?"
" That depends ! " said Bertha, with her
chin on her hands, in her favourite judicial
THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 303
attitude. " Of course it would be despair if
we should lose her real, true self. If she could
only stay Grace Wolfe, and change her point
of view, why, then — "
" That is just what she will do, I feel sure
of it," said Gertrude, earnestly. " She has
been through an experience — oh, we can't
know what it has been, girls, because we are
just plain people, you know, and Grace is —
well, I think she has genius, or something
very like it. If only the power and the sweet-
ness and brightness are turned into helping,
you see, instead of hindering — oh, how
much' she can do ! and I believe she's going
to do it, too. But come. Fluffy, I must go
home. Won't you come, Peggy ? We have
half an hour before study-time."
Peggy followed only too gladly along the
corridor ; it was always a treat to spend half
an hour in the Owl's Nest. Gertrude was
first; she opened the door of her room, and
paused on the threshold with a low cry.
Bertha and Peggy hurried forward and looked
over her shoulder — to see a strange sight.
Something — or somebody — was sitting
on the window-seat. Something gray and
soft. It had a round feathered head, with
two feathery horns jutting from it; it had
round bright eyes, which blinked curiously
at the astonished girls. Below the head were
— arms, were they, or wings? They were
feathery too, and they drooped over some-
thing that might be a skirt, though no feet
were visible. In the gathering twilight the
figure sat on the window-seat and blinked,
looking like nothing that was in heaven or
earth; and the three girls stood and stared,
holding each other's hands. Presently the
silence was broken.
" Bubo Virginianus ! " said a grave, melodi-
ous voice from imder the feathers. " The
Great Horned Owl. Description : Large and
strongly organised; ear-tufts large, erectUe;
bill strong, fully curved; wing rather long;
third quill usually longest ; tail short ; legs
and toes — "
" Grace ! " cried Gertrude Merryweather.
" Tu whit ! " replied the figure. " I may
also in this connection remark, tu whoo !
This well-known bird is a resident in all the
THE END AND THE BEGHSTNING. 305
New England schools — I should say States
— throughout the year. It is not so com-
mon in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and
Rhode Island as in the other States, where,
in the vast tracts of forest, it is quite
abundant. Samuels. Easy there ! spare the
Plumage ! "
The three girls had flung themselves upon
the strange figure, which flapped its arms for
a moment, as if contemplating flight. Then,
waving them off with one arm, it lifted the
feathered head, and gazed at them with
melancholy blue eyes.
" Tu whit ! " repeated the Scapegoat. " I
may be allowed, in this connection, to repeat,
tu whoo ! Don't kill me, Innocent ; I should
be less useful dead."
It did seem as if they would hug her to
death. They laughed, they cried, they ques-
tioned, they talked, all in one breath ; no one
would have recognised the sedate Owls or the
sensible Peggy. Grace regarded them with
grave benignity, as she untied the owl's head,
and loosed the feathered cape from her
'* Rather neat, I thought?" she said, turn-
ing the heiid around on her hand. " The beak
is a little wobbly, but the general character —
eh ? — is pretty good ? I couldn't manage the
toes and claws; there wasn't time, and,
besides, they would have excited remark,
even if the weather had been warm enough
to make them comfortable for travelling.
Well, my Snowy, my Fluffy, how is it ? Is
there room for another Owl in the forest?"
'' Oh, Grace ! " cried Bertha.
** Oh, my dear ! " cried Grertrude ; and their
arms were around her again, while Peggy
sat down on the floor and fairly burst into
Grace was silent for a little, her head rest-
ing on Gertrude's shoulder. When she spoke,
her voice had not its usual even flow, but
hesitated, almost faltered, now and then.
*•* I am going to try ! " she said. " It will
take a long time, my Owls, and you will have
to be very pitient with me. I shall probably
never be wholly domesticated, but — but you
will help me, and the Innocent here will help
me ; won't you, Innocent ? '*
THE END AND THE BEGINNING. 307
" Oh, Grace, if I only could ? but what can
I do? I don't see how I can ever do
anything ! "
"You began it all!" said Grace. "The
way you looked — that night I made you go
out, little Peggy. You didn't know, but the
face of an Innocent can be a terrible thing,
and I saw, and knew — things I hadn't
known before. No need of -going back to
that now. But — Snowy — Samuels says I
make an amusing pet in captivity. You'll
" Won't we ! " cried the Snowy Owl.
" Grace, dear, we'll all try together. Oh, we
all have to keep trying, don't we, all our
lives long ? It wouldn't be worth anything if
we didn't have to try, to work and fight for
it. It shall be we three against the world, —
the Snowy, the Fluffy, and the Horny. No,
we four, for what should we do without our
Peggy ? Get up, Peggy, you ridiculous child ;
stop crjdng, and come and sit here close by
" Oh ! " cried Peggy. " Isn't there some
kind of Owl that I could be? I am too
stupid, of course, but I might be a screech-
owl, don't you think so, Snowy?"
Grace held up her hand. "Forbid the
thought ! " she said, gravely. " Who would
get us our mice ? We must have a Human
Being connected with us. I think of moving
into Bedlam, as Colney has a fine assortment
of mice on hand generally. I refuse bats,
probably on account of the strong musky
odour, but a mouse dragged across the floor
of my cage fills me with excitement. Sam-
uels, part of it at least. No, we must have a
Human Being in the Owlery, and that Human
Being must be the Innocent. We Four
against the World, then ! Hands ' on it, my
The four girls stood up, and, joining hands,
looked in each other's faces. "We Four
against the World ! " they repeated. " The
Snowy, the Fluffy, the Homy, and the Inno-
cent ; Hurrah for us ! " and the shout they
raised brought the whole corridor running to
see what was going on.